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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
Saints-Bretons" which was published in Paris by Tchou in 1979.
A Histoty of the Saint and Places which have been named after
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
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
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
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
(who may be the 10th)
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