Today is Palm Sunday, and I’m posting a photo of Église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, commonly known as La Madeleine. You’re right, it doesn’t look much like a Christian church. That’s because the building was originally intended to be a temple to celebrate Napoleon’s army. After the fall of Napoleon, King Louis XVIII decided that it would instead become a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. It was eventually consecrated in 1842. La Madeleine is located in the centre of Paris in the 8e arrondissement.
One interesting bit of trivia about La Madeleine: Frédéric Chopin’s funeral was held here in 1849, and he had requested that Mozart’s Requiem be sung. The Requiem has parts for female voices, but La Madeleine did not allow female members in its choir. Eventually, the church decided it would allow a mixed choir to sing at the service, but only if the women stood behind a black velvet curtain.
Last Sunday, I posted a photo of Église Saint-Gervais and Saint-Protais. For today, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, here’s a photo of its interior. I quite like the look of the wooden stools, though I don’t imagine they’re too comfortable to sit on for an entire church service.
Église Saint-Gervais and Saint-Protais is located in the 4e arrondissement of Paris, just steps away from Notre-Dame. The church is named after Saint Gervasius and Saint Protasius, twin brothers from Milan who lived and died, it is believed, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, last emperor of the Pax Romana. The present building dates back to the fifteenth century. Although its interior is Gothic, the façade (not pictured) is in the French Baroque style.
I took this photo of the back of Église Saint-Gervais and Saint-Protais from Rue des Barres, and it is my photo choice for today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent.
For the Third Sunday of Lent, here is a photo of Église Saint-Germain de Charonne, located in the former village of Charonne, which was annexed by Paris in 1860 and is now part of the 20e arrondissement.
It is believed that the first church on this site was built to commemorate a meeting that took place in 429 between Saint Germain, Bishop of Auxerre, and Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris. Parts of the present structure date back to the twelfth century. The bell tower was added in the fifteenth century. What is most unusual for a church within Paris is that the parish cemetery remains intact, and was still in use as recently as fifty years ago.
One of the advantages of spending time well outside the centre of Paris, as I did one winter, is that on neighbourhood walks you sometimes come across surprises like this church. Église Notre-Dame-de-la-Croix de Ménilmontant is my photo choice for today, the Second Sunday of Lent.
This church was built to accommodate the population growth of Ménilmontant, a neighbourhood in the 20e arrondissement. Construction began in 1863, and was completed in 1880. Its architectural style is what’s known as the Second Empire style, which was popular in France during the reign of Napoleon III. It’s known for combining materials (such as iron and stone) and styles (such as Romanesque and Gothic) in one building.
Seeing as it is the tenth anniversary of my first-ever Lenten series, I thought that for this year’s series, I would return once again to Paris, whose churches were my inspiration a decade ago.
For today, the First Sunday of Lent, here’s a photo of the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart). Thanks to its location at the top of Montmartre in the 18e arrondissement, it’s one of the most recognized landmarks in all Paris. The basilica was built as spiritual reparations on behalf of France for its part in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Its unique Romano-Byzantine architectural style was influenced by Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and San Marco in Venice. Construction began in 1875, and the basilica was consecrated in 1919.
Even closer to Sint-Niklaaskerk than Sint-Baafskathedraal is Sint-Michielskerk (Saint Michael’s Church). It is this church, dedicated to the archangel Michael, that is my photo choice for Palm Sunday.
You can’t see the tower from this angle, but there is one — a mere 24 metres high. It was intended to be 134 metres tall, but the wars of religion (there were several) stopped the church’s construction in the sixteenth century. When construction began again a century later, the tower was never completed and it was only in 1828 that a roof was put on.