The Saint-Clement parish Church
The parish church is dedicated to St. Clement, patron saint of the commune. In response to the growth in population of the village the church was entirely rebuilt between 1782 and 1787, on the same site as the original medieval church.
In 1848 despite a petition of 150 names, not enough money was raised to buy the surrounding houses to create a place in front of the church. Consequently taking wedding photographs is almost impossible. The church has a simple plan with only one nave, it has been stripped of the confessionals, panneling and side altars, which once enhanced its interior.
The reliquary bust of Saint-Clement and the Bravade.
The parish owns relics of Saint Clement, 1 st century pope and martyr. Acquired in 1670, parts of the Saint’s arm bones are kept in the bust of the Saint which is kept in the church. Annually on the 3rd of May the village holds its patronal fete to celebrate the Feast of the Invention of the Cross and the anniversary of the translation of Saint Clement’s relics. In the past, festivities were organised by a village captain and a youth leader, elected each year by their predecessors. They organised the procession of several kilometers to the chapel of Saint-Clement. They also assembled the bravade corps who would liven up this Fete votive (festival of celebration in honor of the patron of the parish.) Funds for buying the powder and shot were given partly by the commune and partly funded by “droits de pelote”(a tax imposed on widowers and foreigners who married village ladies). The unwilling were subject to “charivari” (good natured harassment) sufficient it seems to convince them to pay. Nowadays the bravadeurs in traditional costume still march through the village to the sound of the fife and drum. They stop frequently to load and fire their blunderbusses, the noise being heard far and wide.
The Church Tower
The original church tower was built in 1571 to a height of about 6.5 meters. In 1698 it was raised to add a clock. In 1785, during the reconstruction work on the church a bell tower (campanile) was added.
Revolutionary dictats severely restricted external signs of religion. As a consequence, each parish was only supposed to retain one bell.
La Garde-Freinet lost the two large bells called Jean-Baptiste and Clement. However the village did manage to keep the two oldest bells, decorated in fleur-de lis : one remains in the bell tower of Saint-Clement church (1698) and the other hangs in the Notre-Dame de la Moure church (1680).
Painting of Virgin and child 1702.
The altar 1787.
The reliquary bust of Saint-Clement.