site unseen La Gran' mere du Chimquiere, Guernsey

Share
Related Topics
The early Christian church faced a difficult problem: how best to convert a pagan and hostile society? There were two solutions. The hardliners were eager to go in there and make them convert or else wield the sword. The moderates, on the other hand, preferred consent and persuasion. By and large, the moderates prevailed.

One particular challenge was the orgiastic Festivals of Mithras and Lupercalia at which Romans let down their hair with a vengeance.

The Christian Church promptly converted the Festival of Mithras into Christmas Day, while the Festival of Lupercalia became St Valentine's Day on 14 February. A debauch was transformed into a safe form of domestic entertainment suitable for everyone.

Ancient history? Not quite. In politically pre-correct days, the wolf whistle was an important part of the vocabulary of any virile, self- respecting building worker. And who doesn't sometimes say "touch wood"?

An exquisite example of this mingling of pagan and Christian is to be found on Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Visit the parish church of St Martin's, a sturdy medieval structure which throws down the gauntlet to passers-by. Are you a Christian? If not, why not? This is muscular Christianity at its most robust.

But not quite. Just outside the churchyard is a seemingly shapeless granite hunk. Look more closely and you can in fact distinguish feminine facial features, hair and a buttoned cape.

This is La Gran' mere du Chimquiere (Cemetery). Several thousand years old, she represents Mother Goddess. For far longer than any recorded history, offerings of flowers and coins were laid at her feet.

But not everyone approved of the Grandmother. One zealous Christian churchwarden who detested this worship of a stone idol tried to cut the figure in two. She defeated his feeble efforts, although a crack is still visible .

The current and informative guide (1988) to St Martin's does not deign to mention the Grandmother. Don't mention it and, hopefully, it will go away.

Mind you, I have a feeling that La Gran' mere will outlive all us puny mortals - and probably Christianity besides.

La Gran' mere du Chimquiere is outside St Martin's church, Guernsey, Channel Islands

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Our media are suffering a new experience: not fear of being called anti-Semitic'  

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk
David Cameron (pictured) can't steal back my party's vote that easily, says Nigel Farage  

Cameron’s benefits pledge is designed to lure back Ukip voters. He’ll have to try harder

Nigel Farage
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices