Photographer's Note

In the village of Saint-Mathieu (Plougonvelin district), some narrow lanes still snake between a few pieces of land enclosed in flowered walls. Of what was since the 13th century a prosperous trading city, remain a few old time houses, the grandiose ruins of Abbey Saint-Mathieu de Fine Terre, some monuments, a lighthouse and a semaphore. Penn ar Bed, western land's end of Brittany, is a strategic tip at the entrance of the rade de Brest and an ideal setting for the lighthouse, which, seen from afar, seems to break through the ruins of the medieval abbey. The foundation of Saint-Mathieu benedictine abbey is said, as goes a legend, to date back to the 6th century : "breton seamen returned from Ethiopia with a relic of Saint Mathieu for which they built a church". Some say that it was founded by the vicomtes of Leon, at the end of the 11th century. Ransacked many times, the abbey sheltered for some years monks fallen into disgrace. It was abandoned after the French Revolution and used as a quarry. Walking in this windy land's end through the high and imposing ruins gives no idea of what this place was in the past.

The monks kept a fire going for centuries on Pointe Saint-Mathieu. The current lighthouse was put into service in 1835. Range : 60 kilometers. From its 56 meters, beautiful sight over Brest straights and roadstead, Crozon peninsula, pointe du Raz, Molene islands, Ouessant... Near by the abbey, the semaphore built in 1905 guards this sector of the French littoral. Chapel Notre-Dame de Grace was formerly the parish church of Saint-Mathieu. Sculpted in Kersanton stone by Rene Quillivic, inaugurated in 1927, the National Monument of 1914 - 1918 Seamen, shows the bust of a woman, head covered with a mourning coiffe, face turned to the sea. At its foot, an esplanade for memorial ceremonies with a cenotaph (remembrance cemetery) at the foot of the Fortin.

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Additional Photos by Monika Gobrys (m00n) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 114 W: 0 N: 305] (2259)
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