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Marie-Noëlle Jouan in Brittany recently sent us this article from the Ouest France newspaper from June 1972 or 73. In the first two photos we see the 6th century Saint Méen Chapel in ruins and then renovated, in the third photo, through the work of Jean Rouxel of Bains sur Oust.
The headlines surrounding the photos states: “They feared that the stones would be eaten away by the soil and vegetation…and in eight years, of stubborn, hard work, they raised up the 6th century chapel.”
The Article by Michel Loret
“When I was a child, I would tend cows there, in the valley. Sometimes I would roam around the fallen stones of the chapel. It upset me to see the wooden sculptures of saints aligned against the walls, open to the elements and deteriorating as the seasons passed.” Thus, are the childhood memories of Mr. Jean Rouxel. Today a retired rail worker, he speaks of “his” chapel with intensity, with passion, but also as if it were beloved child to whom he was ready to give everything. It was stone by stone that he saw it grow, freeing itself from the vegetation that had imprisoned it. Sunday will be the festival of the Saint-Méen chapel, a village fair surrounded with the aroma of crêpes, sausage and cider.
A Foolish Endeavour?
The summer of 1965: Mr. Rouxel’s son with the group “Mein Breiz” (a folklore, advocacy group) had just finished restoring a chapel in Chateauneuf-du-Faou. When he was back home in Redon describing his adventures, his father mentioned the Saint-Méen chapel, abandoned and in ruins. Suddenly, the project took shape. The task would be difficult: there was more than just the rubble invaded by trees and roots; there was no money either. They would have to cope; unless Saint-Méen gave them a sign?
The summer of 1966: With the aid of the Celtic Society of Redon, who the past autumn had cleared the thick bush and brambles, the work began. Rouxel and his son met with many of villagers along the Oust River. He remined them that in 1879, when the rector and mayor of Bains came to remove the bells from the ruins, it raised quite a storm amongst the locals. And now it was the grandchildren of these peasants who came to work the stone and wood, to plant and trim the trees. Some thought it was a foolish endeavor however it awoke the conscience of many to something long forgotten.