May 3, 2016

Patron saint of Paris and her church

Walking up a hill in the Quartier Latin, the church tower peaking through the buildings provided for the picture perfect Paris that this city is renowned for across the globe.

I had put my name down for a tour to study an illustration of the evolution of French architecture and was not disappointed.

Église St-Etienne-du-Mont in Paris is an attractive Gothic church with some unique features inside and out. It stands on the site of an abbey founded by Clovis, King of the Franks (466-511) and later dedicated to St. Geneviève, the patroness of Paris.

St. Geneviève was so popular in the Middle Ages that the abbey had to be enlarged to accommodate all the pilgrims. Construction on the present abbey church began in 1492 and encountered numerous delays before it was finally finished in 1626.

Along with the patroness of Paris, such illustrious men as Pascal and Racine were entombed here. St. Geneviève's tomb was destroyed during the Revolution, but the stone on which her coffin rested was discovered later, and her relics were gathered for a place of honor at St-Etienne.

Common legend has it that St. Geneviève was a simple peasant girl. Geneviève became the heroine of Paris in 451AD when Attila and his Hun warriors attempted to seize Paris. She encouraged the inhabitants to stay in Paris and resist instead of fleeing their homes. The Parisians believed that her payers and determination alone succeeded in stopping Attila from invading and destroying Paris.

Geneviève became a heroin overnight!

The Huns were definitely booted out of the country by a new race of invaders, the Franks, who not only founded France but gave it its first king, Clovis.

So, there you have an intriguing piece of French history.

The hill that was known by its Roman name of Mount Leucotilius

St Etienne du Mont Church located on the Montagne Sainte Geneviève

Main facade with three pediments

Rood screen and Renaissance balustrade and staircase

The construction of St Etienne du Mont Church took place over 134 years.

This resulted in an interesting mix of styles illustrating the evolution of French religious architecture.

St Etienne du Mont Church is the only church in Paris 
whose architecture reflects the transition from ...

Gothic ... Gothic Flamboyant to ...

... French Renaissance styles.

A heavenly ray of sun

Secret passage way?!?

Sainte Genevieve Chapel 

The silver and gold gilded shrine of Sainte-Genevieve

This neo-Gothic chapel, completed in 1853, contains superb stained glass windows depicting the saint’s history.

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