Saint Malo Church – Magnolia

Saint Malo Church faces the Grand Rue, the street that leads to the historic district of Dinan.

Saint Malo Church in Dinan - Magnolia tree in bloom
Magnolia tree in bloom

The church’s  Gothic Flamboyant architecture immediately catches your eyes.

However, if you visit in early spring, you’ll be stunned by the magnificent magnolia tree in full bloom.

The agronomist and then mayor of Rennes Louis de Lorgeril gave the Magnolia Soulangeana to the city of Dinan in 1850.

The superb tree now peaks at 13m above street level and has become one of the city’s landmarks. As a result, the Organisation des Nations Unies listed it as National Heritage under the label “most beautiful trees” in 2011.

Early 2013, the Conseil Général des Côtes d’Armor listed it as one of the Three Remarquables Arbres – Remarkable Trees of Dinan.

Dinan boasts two other listed trees.

You’ll find a superb araucaria in the cemetery and the ginkgo biloba in the Jardin Anglais by St-Sauveur Basilica.

Saint Malo Church’s construction

Olivier I of Dinan founded Saint Malo Church around 1066 on the site of a chapel, which then stood outside the city walls.

Saint Malo Church in Dinan
Church and sqaure

During the 14th century War of the Breton Succession, the Duke of Brittany demolished the church in order to refrain the French from transforming it into a defence bastion.

Pierre Laval, the Bishop of the city of Saint-Malo, laid the first stone of the current church on May 17, 1490.

By then, the site was located inside the walled city.

Construction work started thanks to the generosity of the inhabitants of Dinan and Queen Anne de Brittany.

However, Saint Malo Church was not completed until 1885 due to recurrent lack of funds.

Saint Malo Church in Dinan - Listed pulpit
Listed pulpit

Work was indeed interrupted after the completion of the imposing portal and the digging of the foundations for the nave.

By the end of the 16th century, the nave was still incomplete and the church had a simple thatched roof.

In 1670, the Bishop of St Malo transferred the relics of St. Malo to the church Church in order to attract pilgrims.

placed in safety in time!

Sadly, all the original furnishing and religious works of art were destroyed, melted or sold.

The building was even converted into a stable, a forge and even a theatre and a fire eventually destroyed the nave and the tower.

The inhabitants of Dinan funded the reconstruction of the nave, aisles and gargoyles and the church was re-consecrated in 1803.

The architects Alphonse Guépin of Saint Brieuc and Charles Aubry of Dinan conducted the work which lasted from 1808 to 1818.

A relic of St. Malo was replaced into the church on February 23, 1851.

Saint Malo Church – Exterior

Saint Malo Church is different from most other churches as it has no steeple!

Saint Malo Church in Dinan
Architecture exterior

It appears that the funds collected for its construction were granted to the city of St Malo.

The church’s modest bell tower is a therefore a four-sided roof with four bells!

The bourdon (big bell) is affectionately nicknamed Gros Malo and weighs 2.980 kg.

Mélanie Clémentine, the second bell, was cast in 1835 in Villedieu-les-Poëles in Normandy (the foundry where Emmanuel, the new bourdon of Notre-Dame Cathedral, was cast.)

The third bell Marie-Henriette-Anne was installed in 1929 in order to replace Marie-Louise, which had been funded by the sister of the writer François-René de Chateaubriand in 1846.

The fourth bell is non-motorized as it served to ring the alarm.

Saint Malo Church – Interior

The 15th century chancel, apse and transept are a superb illustration of Gothic Flamboyant style.

The church also boasts superb colourful stained-glass windows, created by the master glazier in 1854.

They depict the city’s inhabitants and districts, but also its history and various religious events.

The altar completed in 1955, stands on the town’s highest spot.

Saint Malo Church in Dinan

The original pulpit is a listed Historical Monument, however, a modern one replaced it in 2011.

Fianlly, Saint Malo Church is known for its sound quality and is therefore a prime venue for live concerts of organ as it boasts two organs!

The renowned organ-maker Alfred Oldknow built the Great Organ in 1889.

Considered his masterpiece, it is also the only out of four of his creations to have remained in Brittany.

The instrumental section was therefore listed as Historical Monument on May 23, 1980; the gallery of carved chestnut on June 25,1990.

The instrument was re-tuned in 1984 and contributes to the many concerts organized during the Estivales d’Orgue.

You’ll find it in a lateral chapel near the altar.

The second organ belonged to the Polish pianist, Henri Kowalski, and serves as choir organ.

Saint Malo Church is a listed Historical Monument.

Department of Côtes d’Or – Dinan
Coordinates: Lat 48.454543 – Long -2.046067

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