Wednesday 30 June 2010

Counting wafers

The picture-postcard St Malo Chapel, near Bréhand, is rich with historical associations. When royalists rose up against the republic in 1794 and fought in Brittany, this chapel was a rallying point for local people opposed to republican conscription. Boishardy, a leading chouan (royalist), was killed nearby and according to local legend was due to marry in the chapel that day. The current building is the result of substantial restoration in the nineteenth century.

However, one of the most eye-catching items in the simple interior is a wooden peg board. It had a very practical purpose: on arriving at mass, anyone intending to take communion would move the peg down a hole. Thus there would be a count of exactly how many wafers needed to be prepared.

While the peg on a string may be a long way from symbols of military glory, it speaks a great deal of the frugality and common sense of everyday life.


Minnie said...

Have seen those communion wafer tally boards before; but cannot for life of me remember where (?Ireland; Loire Valley). What a tragic tale attached to that modest little church. [It always intrigued me that the Bretons were so staunchly royalist, like the Welsh in the Civil Wars of 1640s-1651.]

Philip Wilkinson said...

Love the tally board. One of these days I mean to do some posts about the odd things one finds in churches.