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All the Saint Clairs

Our preoccupation with Saint Clair and St Clair-sur-Epte from where the family is said to have
taken its name encourages me to throw further light on the various Saints who paraded under
the name of Clair or, as he or they were known in Latin, Clarus.

For this further information, I am indebted to a translation from B.L.Fontana's "Dictionannaire
Saints-Bretons" which was published in Paris by Tchou in 1979.

A Histoty of the Saint and Places which have been named after him:

In the 3rd Century, Saint Clair became the first Bishop of Nantes.  Very little is known about him historically.  In the year 280, the Pope had Saint Clair sent to Armorique entrusting him with a sinnal relic: the nail which was used to pirece the right hand of St Peter at the time of
his crucifixion.

However, legend concerning Saint Clair seems to be much older than this founing of the Holy See at Nantes.  Legend has it that in the year 69 he was consecrated Bishop by Saint
Linus, who was St Peter's successor (as the head of the church) and tat he died in the year

This oral tradition of having a Saint Clair alive in the 1st Century has allowed a fabulous hagiography in which he is placed in relationship with a disciple of Joseph d'Arimathie, named Drennalus who went from Great Britain to Armorique at this time.  This Saint Clair
is said to have died at Requiny near Vannes on October 10th - hence the Feast Day of all
Saint Clairs is on this day.

To the present day, the church of the Requiny Parish still prreserves a trepanned skull which is said to be that of Saint Clair as well as a cenotaph which is consecrated to him.  The latter bears the folowing inscription: "Saint Clair buried here October 10th, 868"

However, we learn from other sources that the corpse of the Saint was transported from Nantes to Angers in 878 at the time of the Norman invasions and that, until the Revolution, it
was protected in a silver reliquary in the Benedictine Church of St Aubin.

Elsewhere, we learn that his skull was venerated in the Cathedral at Nantes.  The historian,
La Borderie, has seen in this duality of skulls "an unimpeachable proof of the tow personages".

Usages, Customs, Legends, Songs, Sayings

Saint Clair is invoked for the recovery of eysight and for weather favourable for good harvests.
Until 1890 at Requiny, people immersed the skull of the Saint in a basin of water and, those
suffering from eye inflammation or blindness, used this hallowed water for washing their eyes.

A Latin Hymn from 1400 is chanted to implore the grace of the Saint as a means of curing

We praise by pious hymns
Saint Clair who gives light to blindness


The Chapel of Requiny has the honour of possessing a Chapel built on the tomb of the Saint.  Nearby is a fountain dedicated to Saint Clair.  Situated not far from there is a house called "kerbelec" (the priest's house).  Local tradition has it that it was built on the same site where the Saint lived or, at least, where he sheltered during the last moments of his life.

Saint Clair is the patron saint of Saille (Loire-Atlantique) where formerly a Priory was founded
and of its annex odf Plesse; likewise the Church of Chantenay (Loire-Atlantique).  A Chapel
is dedicated to Saint Clair in the Cathedral at Nantes; another at Limerzel (Morbihan) and a
third at Lannedern (Finistere).  A chaplaincy honouring the Saint was founded in 1504 at Saint Donan (Cotes-du-Nord) and another at Plonevez-du-Faver (Finistere).  There is a fountain Sarzeau (Morbihan) bearing his name.  There is also a ruined Castle near Deval named Saint Clair.


The Church of Requiny possesses a tomb with a reclining statue of Saint Clair whilst another stautue of the Saint can be seen in the Church of Notre Dame of Doulas (Finistere)
A more modern statue has been placed in the Church of St Yves at Ploudaniel (Finistere).


Whilst there are connecting threads it will be seen that the above account(s) of Saint Clair(s)
various from the account given in L.A. St Clair's "Genealogique de la Famille de St Clair 1005-1905 which was published in Paris and that given in the "Saint Clairs of the Isles" by Roland St Clair which was published in Auckland, New Zealand in 1898.

There have been nine separate St Clairs according to the Dictionary of Christian Biography.

Niven Sinclair
(who may be the 10th)
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