Notre Dame de la Perelle

6th March 2024

Notre Dame de la Perelle, Now known as Sainte Apolline
By George Métivier

Translated from a newspaper article originally written in French. He was an avid philologist, sometimes incorrect in his suppositions; his style is full of asides and annotations.

See also: Lost things: Old Red House, St Saviour's, 1891 | Priaulx Library


"In anticipation of one day rediscovering the letter from Colin Henry, sent from his Manor at la Perelle, or, in full, Pereville (from which comes the English Peverel), and addressed, sometime between 1371 and 1399, to Richard II, King of England, here follows pretty much everything we know about Saint Apolline, a humble rural chapel in St Saviour and a rare survivor of the many unfortunately destroyed by the pious Reformation, in its jealousy and suspicion.

At this period, the story of the Church was the story of the world. There was at that time hardly any difference between Isis, the Queen of the Skies and the Star of the Sea, whose image one can still see at Lyon holding the swaddled babe on her lap, Horus – Hebrew Aor, light - and the humble Mother of the Son of God. The invocation of Lucian of Samosata, who closely resembled the immortal Rabelais, is the model for the homilies of St Anselm, St Bonaventure, and of the eloquent Pere Ratisbonne.*

Now, we know that the epithet ‘Notre Dame’ was never applied to ordinary saints. ‘Blessed amongst women’, Marie, even for the Vaudois sect, sits at God the Father’s table next to her divine son. From the epithet alluded to above we can ascertain the purpose of Colin Henry, the founder of this oratory (‘gebett-hauss’) of the fishermen of the area of Rocquaine and Annouet (Annaoueet): to obtain permission to institute a chaplaincy at the altar of Notre Dame.

So then, where does the modern name we use come from – the Chapel of Saint Apolline?

According to the Roman breviary, in 253, under the Emperor Decius, an Alexandrian virgin of this name, old and unmarried, refused to worship idolatrous gods. The executioner smashed her teeth with his club. These infidels lit a great fire – she threw herself on it. A few years ago the image of this heroine could still be found in our island houses, beautifully carved on our rural linen presses and wardrobes.

Shortly before the arrival of Nicolas Baudouin and of the Siegneur de la Ripaudiere in our archipelago - stubborn, recalcitrant, and romanised in the image of its Mother - the chapel at La Perelle bore the name of Saint Apolline, despite the invocation of the blessed virgin.

At the beginning of the 16th century the chapel belonged to Nicolas Guille. The silver-plated water-vessel, or aquiminarium, which appears modern in shape, formerly belonged to George Andros, co-heir of Monsieur Charles Andros of Les Piques in St Saviour. His manor was on the chapel’s land; and it was at the house of Monsieur Andros (who was former lieutenant to that excellent Bailiff William Le Marchant) that I first saw this pitcher. It is inscribed: ‘Sancte Paule, ora pro nobis’.

We have yet to find out how Saint Apolline came to wipe out the memory of Notre Dame, or whence arose the appeal to St Paul on the water jug. A woman from the neighbourhood of the Castel Church gave me a facsimile of the frescos of Saint Mary, my parish; those of Saint Apolline I have yet to add to my collection."

"*Odd thing! In 1869, this new Chrysostome was so old-fashioned as to be disavowed by Trittenheim, Possevin, Bellarmin and Pere Pagi."