Monday 25 April 2011

Virgin Mary, Cancale

Many Breton homes have niches on their facades, homes to statues of the Virgin Mary. The fishing port of Cancale was no exception; here is one worn and weathered example. Others are now so valuable that they are protected behind glass.

The residents had good reason to seek her intercession, since Cancale was a cod-fishing port in the late nineteenth century. Between 1885 and 1900, 147 fishing boats left the town for Newfoundland. The voyage was long and perilous, with dangers ranging from storms and fogs to icebergs, but the potential earnings made it worthwhile. For those about to depart and those waiting at home for them to return, these statues provided reassurance. Today, the local industries - oyster-farming and tourism - are undoubtedly safer, but these protectors remain to watch over the port's inhabitants.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

On a recent trip to Flanders, we found that towns there (at least those we visited, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp) were also notable for the number of effigies of the Virgin and Child, nearly one on every street corner.

Whilst this may be partly ascribed to piety, it is often the result of competition as people try to outdo one another (or at least keep up with the Joneses) in providing luxurious religious works, ostensibly for the benefit of the community, but also to acquire kudos for themselves.