November 30, 2015

Where is the Abbot in St. Denis?

The following post was written two days before the Paris' attacks happened and subsequently got put on the back-burner. It was erie, however, seeing M. Bernard Cazeneuve, France's Interior Minister on TV - after the police had raided the center of St.Denis - standing in the exact same spot we had visited not even a week earlier! 

St. Denis is not a place you hang out in Paris. A northern suburb of Paris that was probably on the Fox News much-discussed "No-zone map" earlier this year.

Well, this morning that was where I was headed. Not on my own I might add but with 18 other International ladies who were all curious about the large medieval abbey church of Saint Denis where France's Kings and Queens are buried.

It took four different metro lines to reach St. Denis and heading out of the metro station, I couldn't help but noticing the cold, bare irregular concrete walls. Gone were the fancy tiles, the beaming spotlights, the coloured chairs, and the decorated, themed metro stops; welcome to the real world.

The Gothic Basilica of St Denis with the tombs of the Kings of France completed in 1144, is considered to be the first Gothic church and is one of the most interesting and splendid in the Paris Region.

Saint Denis, a patron saint of France, became—according to the legend–the first bishop of Paris. The story has it that he was decapitated on the hill of Montmartre and subsequently carried his head to the site of the current church, indicating where he wanted to be buried. A martyrium was erected on the site of his grave, which became a famous place of pilgrimage during the fifth and sixth centuries.

The basilica became the burial place of the French kings with nearly every king from the 10th to the 18th centuries being buried there, as well as many from previous centuries.

In the 12th century the Abbot Suger rebuilt portions of the abbey church using innovative structural and decorative features. In doing so, he is said to have created the first truly Gothic building. He also included his portrait in the decoration of the church.

The abbey church became a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy.

Place Victor Hugo, the cafés opposite the basilica

The front side of the basilica

Lunchtime already?

The rose window to the South is even more impressive than the front clock

I wonder if St. Denis ever housed a hunchback?

Many a story to tell if you know where to look

The south transept rose shows the Creation

The central nave with lower aisles and clerestory windows

The glazed triforium of St Denis is a notable feature of Rayonnant Gothic

Memorial to King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette

I found the hunchback! 

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