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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Breage, Cornwall (†Truro) C.15

St Christopher

Breage, St Christopher and the Sabbath Breakers

Breage, St Christopher

The church of Saint Breaca houses many important late medieval wall paintings which were initially uncovered in 1891, during renovations to the church. The two most imposing paintings are sited adjacent to each other either side of the north door and were so placed to be instantly observed by anyone entering the building from the main entrance on the south side of the church.¹

To the left of the north door can be seen the figure of St Christopher (approximately 2.15m x 2.75m) bearing the Christ Child on his shoulder and carrying a staff to help him cross the river. This St Christopher is a huge bearded figure dressed as a Canaanite. He wears a grey/blue tunic with a yellow border and a red cloak draped over his shoulder. Around his head is a red band. His legs are bare from the knees down.

Breage, St Christopher, Mermaid Breage, St Christopher, hermit and ship Breage, St Christopher, Christ-child

In the water to the bottom left is a mermaid holding a mirror, surrounded by fish. Above her, seated in a small clinker boat, is a hermit-like figure wearing a cowl, and on the horizon is a ship in full sail.

St Christopher was a very popular subject of 15th century wall paintings. He was thought to protect travellers and was also considered to have powers against the bubonic plague which was particularly relevant at this time.

Jump to the Breage Sabbath Breakers.

You can see a 360° panorama of the interior of the church here.

Website for Breage church

¹ Text taken from the Breage Church Friends website.
† in page heading = Diocese