Archive for July 3rd, 2018

July 3, 2018

This is Paris, Notre-Dame-des-Champs Church!

Going along in my walks of Paris, and seeing its many monument will do wonders to your senses. Walking is like stepping into an outdoor museum , all beautiful. Some of the things we see sometimes does not bring the couriosity in us, after all so many to choose from indeed. However, once we decided to go in, we see why Paris is call the most beautiful city in the world, inside and outside!

This is an area that has become mine. Not only of get together with the folks from my beloved USA in the area but also because I worked here,not far, and do come by Montparnasse in the last few years quite often, almost once a month or more.  The monument is a Church ,but there is more to a Church in France than religion, many things in history do happened in them.

Church of Notre-Dame-des-Champs(fields), located at 91, boulevard du Montparnasse, in the 6éme district of Paris (out of 20 in Paris).  It gives its name to the Notre-Dame-des-Champs neighborhood, in the southern part of which the church is located, and which is the 23rd neighborhood of Paris (out of 80 in Paris). The church is bordered on one side by the square Ozanam, opposite lies the restaurant La Coupole.

The remnants of a Roman temple dedicated to the cult of the God Mercury have been found some distance from the present church. After the conversion of the Parisian region to Christianity, the temple was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was baptized Notre-Dame-des-Vignes,(vineyards) the place being surrounded by vineyards. Thereafter, King Robert the Pious enlarged Notre-Dame-des-Vignes to honor the place where Saint-Denis would have celebrated the Holy Mysteries. The tradition reports that, arriving at Lutècia, had first settled in this place. The Benedictines of Marmoutier Abbey soon transformed the Church into a priory; they tore out the surrounding vines and renamed the Church “Notre-Dame-des-Champs”. This sanctuary, a crypt in the basements of the building at 14bis Rue Pierre-Nicole became a place of pilgrimage to which you could go in by the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, which bypassed the paddock of the monks from the south. In 1604, the Benedictines ceded Notre-Dame-des-Champs to the Duchess of Orléans-Longueville, who installed Carmelite nuns from Spain who made their monastery one of the most famous in the 17C. It was there that successively withdrew Mademoiselle de La Valliére and Madame de Montespan.

At the French revolution, the Convent was closed and the Church destroyed. In 1802 the nuns bought a small part of their old estate, and built a small chapel dedicated to Notre-Dame-des-Champs at currently 25 Rue Henri-Barbusse and a new cloister surmounted by their living quarters. This second Carmel was abolished in 1906, and there remained only the memory, perpetuated by rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. In 1858, a parish was created for the district, which naturally received the name of Notre-Dame-des-Champs, with a wooden chapel located at 153 and 155 Rue de Rennes. The architecture of the present church is of Romanesque inspiration. The first stone was laid in 1867 and, eight years later,in 1876, the Church received its blessing. In 1912 the Church was consecrated by Cardinal Léon-Adolphe Amete, Archbishop of Paris.


Like many Churches built in Paris under the Second Empire, the building has a metal frame made by Gustave Eiffel. This allows it to benefit from a high vault and an important space. The nave is chanted with arched arcades supported by pillars. Beyond the ionic capitals emerge from the columns engaged to the arches.  The Notre-Dame-des-Champs Church boasts a double series of canopies, on the aisles and the second level of the elevation. The stained glass windows bring to the nave and chorus all the light necessary to admire the paintings.

The statue of the Madonna is above the altar of the Virgin and represents the Blessed Virgin carrying the child Jesus, holding in his hands a crown of thorns. It is one of the most beautiful virgins to the child of Paris. The 14 paintings of the way of the cross, the murals of the church are all splendid and esoteric.

The Chapel of Saint Joseph located in the north transept has a painting representing the rest of the Holy Family. This work has the peculiarity of showing Saint Joseph hug the child Jesus surrounded by the Virgin Mary and by the four main archangels: Michel, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel.  The Sacred Heart Chapel in the south transept has a painting, dating from 1885, representing the Sacred Heart.


The 22 paintings located at the second level of the elevation in the nave and the choirs of the Church were made on strengthened canvas, i.e. a canvas glued to the wall.  Built between 1891 and 1907 and represent the life of the Virgin Mary.

This is hugely wonderful and a must see while in Paris, you are missing something else if not by here.

The paintings by Joseph Aubert ,of Breton origin, devoted 18 years of his life to the artistic work of the Notre-Dame-des-Champs Church. He made all the paintings with the exception of both the chapels of the Sacré-Coeur and Saint-Joseph. The artist uses the technique of the strengthened canvas: a canvas fixed on a wall using glue pressed against it. For his 22 paintings of the Life of the Virgin, Aubert has documented himself by making several trips to Palestine to observe the costume of the people, and more specifically, the daily life of women. Moreover, many places visited are found on his paintings. Let us note that the paintings of the Church of Notre-Dame-des-Champs highlight the two natures of the Virgin, the triumphant in the sky above the earthly creatures as seen in the vault in the furnace; that of the nave and where it appears in its earthly life, as a woman of Galilee who is clad in the embroidered robe which is still worn, today.  These painting gained notoriety abroad as four paintings of the Church were purchased by American religious art lovers (the works exhibited are replicas). Innovative in decorations and costumes, also in the interpretation made of “the Last Supper”. The artist did not represent a meal, but a communion. Jesus stands up, a chalice in his hands. The apostles are standing on their knees or leaning towards him. Those who sit at the table will have to leave it to commune, too, with divine blood. In this very beautiful painting, it is necessary to underline the meticulous work of the artist and his search for realism in the painting of the room, the costumes and the accessories of the meal.

A bit of history I like:

The law of separation of Church and state from 1905 on Notre-Dame-des-Champs. It should be recalled that the law of 1905 asked the parishes to create each a worship association to which the property of the state-owned, newly-crowned public institutions would be attributed. To mark his opposition to the law, the Church of France refused these associations (which are nevertheless commonplace today). The law of 1905 stipulated that, without attribution to an association, these assets were to be placed under receivership-which, of course, went through a prior inventory. And this inventory was in the eyes of the religious and the faithful the infamous imprint of the Republic on religious life. So a casus belli. In other words nationalisation as in many revolutions.

Obviously, in order to establish the inventories, the officers of the state demanded the collaboration of the religious… and they refused in protest. In December 1905, Cardinal Richard put his instructions to the Parisian parishes: to follow the inventory operations, without directing them, and to make all the useful reservations when the interests of the priests and Churches appear compromised. In Notre Dame des Champs, the priest and the members of the Church displayed, in an official letter, their refusal to lend their hand to the authorities.

When the officers of the State arrived in front of the Church square on January 31, 1906 at  14h or 2pm, a stormy crowd awaited them. There were two blocks there. The first, the “people of the barriers”, guided by former communards and socialist leaders, cried: “Down with the cap!” The other, a defender of the parish priest, was made up of Bretons whose arrival in the capital for some decades had helped to radically change the social face of the neighbourhood. As belligerent as the other, the two groups came to the hands. On the Breton side, we heard shouting: “Down with thieves!” and “Go to the Grand Orient!”, putting the law of separation on the account of Freemasonry.

After two hours of confrontation, in accordance with the instructions they had received, the officers of the State withdrew empty handed. When the demonstrators left, the priest of the Church recited the Rosary in public. Notre Dame des Champs Church was classified in the parishes of the refusal.

The Historical context above are translated by me from the book “Brève histoire de la paroisse Notre-Dame-des-Champs” (Brief history of the parish of Our Lady of the Fields) by Bernard Plongeron, Honorary Professor of the Institut Catholique de Paris( Catholic Institute of Paris) . Edited on the occasion of the Jubilee of the Church 1858-2008.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is recommended are

The Parish webpage of the Church of Notre Dame des Champs :

Webpage of the Catholic Churches of Paris:

Tourist office of Paris:

It is really wonderful to see, and I finf myself looking at something that is not much mention but really a gem of Paris.  Hope it helps your discover more of Paris.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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July 3, 2018

This is Paris: Parish Church of St François de Sales!

In my wandering days in Paris, never stop amazing me the multitude of sights and places, monuments etc that abound in this beautiful city. No doubt it is worthy call the most beautiful city in the world.  There is enough in Paris to write books, I know one famous who wrote and published posthume called A Movable Feast; but Hemingway was short way short, there is so much more even in Paris.

I came upon these monument and particularly this Church walking, and of course who says going underground is fun! Walking in Paris is like been in a museum 24 hrs 7/7 and you can come across amazing places. One of them is the Saint François de Sales Church.

The Catholic parish of Saint-François-de-Sales in the 17éme district of Paris officially at 70 Rue Jouffroy d’Abbans. It  comprises two separate churches built  head-butting and connected by a corridor. It is dedicated to Saint François de Sales. The oldest of the two Churches has its main entrance to  6  Rue Brémontier. At the beginning of the 20C is decided the building of a new church. This is built from 1911 to 1913 with entrance by 15 Rue Ampére with a long corridor allowing direct access to the old church.

Once the events of the commune have passed, it was decided to raise a new place of worship in a rather stripped Romanesque style. The building, dedicated to Saint François of Sales, is blessed in 1873. It is called today “Old Church”. Indeed, as early as 1912, with the population growing again, another larger building, always dedicated to François de Sales and always of Romanesque style, is built, adjoining the first. It is called “New Church”. The “Ancient church” of Saint-François-de-Sales, presents some interesting sculptures, two absidiales Chapels fully painted and a canopy of the late 19C. It is devoted to the life of François de Sales, canonized in 1665 and declared Doctor of the Church in 1877 by Pope Pius IX.

The story of the Saint is very interesting even from a historical point of view.  Saint François de Sales and the Counter-Reformation. François de Sales was born in 1567 in the Duchy of Savoy (so he is not French born). A noble family, he studied at the colleges of Annecy and Paris. Drawn very early by the priesthood, he shows a passionate soul about theology. 16 to 20 years old he was in Paris, studying Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. The theories of grace and predestination, brought to the liking of the day by Protestaniesm, mark it to such an extent that it believes itself destined to hell. To overcome his anguish, he prays in the Dominican church of Saint-Germain-des-Près, in front of a statue of the Virgin. And this for ten weeks (end 1586-beginning 1587). He is not yet 20 years old and already reveals a very mystical spirit.  François de Sales deepened theology at the University of Padua and became a priest in 1593, at the age of 26. He was a member of the Bishopric of Geneva, but lived in Annecy because the Calvinists expelled the Catholics from the city. He was immediately remarked by his preaching skills and the very content of his preaching. At a time when the clergy dreamed of reconquering the regions won by reform, his way of converting souls seduced: no compulsion, no violence; Everything must rest in the reasoning and persuasion of the verb. And especially in a life of virtue that must serve as an example. His bishop, Claude de Graner, sent him as a missionary in the Protestant Chablais, especially his capital, Thonon-les-Bains. The task will be rough, will take years, but came to fruition ,thanks to the persuation of St François de Sales.

Charles Borromée and François de Sales were the two great figures who applied the principles of the Council of Trent on the ground, and had them translated, at the level of objects and images, by Baroque art.  The altarpiece is conceived as a digest of the theological truths affirmed by the Council of Trent. François de Sales had the opportunity to monitor, control, reframe if necessary, the artistic creations of his region. The Counter-Reformation implanted there with powerful weapons, that of faith through the beauty in art, to well mark its difference with Protestantism which refused any form of objects of piety, except the cross.


From the outside it looks like less than it is ,however, inside there are wonders to behold. The stained glass of the choir. The church of Saint-François-de-Sales chose an original iconography to illuminate its choir. In fact, the stained glass windows illustrate three themes represented by the great figures of the Catholic Church: Tradition, the people of God and Scripture (from left to right).

On the left, the parabole of Tradition; in a central Mandorla, Saint Peter, on his throne and wearing the papal tiara, is accompanied, in the upper rows, by Doctors of the Church (St. Athanasius, St. John’s, St. Gregory of Nazarene and Saint Basil), and, downstairs, the Fathers of the Church (Saint Gregory, St. Augustine, St. Jerome and St. Ambrose).

In the center, the people of God are represented by Saints.  We see, in the lower part, Saint François de Sales and Saint Jeanne de Chantal; above, Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus. In the upper part, the fourth row starting from the bottom shows Saint Denis and Sainte Geneviève; above, Saint Peter and Mary, Queen of Heaven. Finally, the upper row is entirely original; the Christ blessing, on the left, carries on His head a royal crown and, in the left hand, the Cross of his torment. On the right, the heavenly Father, as a bearded old man, is endowed with the royal attributes,  he carries crown, Sceptre, royal Orb and neck the cordon and the Medal of an order of chivalry.  On the right, the Parable of Scripture; the Virgin to the Child, also in a mandorla, is surrounded, above, by the four Evangelists and, at the bottom, by Prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Jeremiah).

Paris Paris Paris Paris

Really a find in Paris, off the beaten path of the more popular ones of its kind but worth a detour.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful Church are

Parish Church of St François de Sales :

Catholic Churches of Paris site:

A different beautiful Paris awaits you, do come and see. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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