Church of the Madeleine ,Paris of course!

Looking at some older posts, I realize have not written enough on the Church of the Madeleine in Paris. I did spoked about in previous posts ,but not one dedicated to this wonderful Church ,that was my walking by to work traject for over two years in Paris!

Many nice memories of stopping by at the shops around it from Lavinia, to Nicolas, Hédiard, Fauchon, Maison madame de Sevigny,  the lower level stores and my rest stops at the café Madeleine just looking at it. Some of these shops are no longer there like Sevigny but the spirit rest the same. I would walk from the Gare St Lazare passing the great department store with Au Printemps on my left crossing the Bd Haussmann towards the rue Tronchet walk around the Church de la Madeleine and continue on rue Duphot to Rue St Honoré ,Rue Cambon, rue du Mont Thabor to rue Rouget de Lisle and my job!! Sublime my eternal Paris!


First, the Paris tourist office has something on it here:Tourist office of Paris on the Church

And in French , the parish site has a lot more here: Official Church of the Madeline

The brief on it is that this part of the Saint-Honoré suburb closest to the Charles IX compound was called the city of Bishops. It was served by a small church dedicated to Mary Magdalene, which stood at the entrance to the present-day bd Malesherbes . The decision to rebuild it as a first-rate monument was taken in 1757; it stems from the royal project of redevelopment of the west of Paris around a square in honor of Louis XV . It  was ordered built a Church here since 1764 to provide a nice ending to the Rue Royale facing the Bourbon palace! In 1806, Napoléon I, change the plans in order to provide a temple to the glory of the French armies… The building with columns was to resembled those in Athens; the Church once again dedicated to religious worship was finally finished in 1842.


It is an imposing appearance of a classical temple with 108 meters long (350 feet) by  43 meters wide (140 feet) surrounded by 52 Corinthians columns each measuring 20 meters (64 feet). There are no external bells or cross to show this is a Church but in the bronze doors (3 tons) you see bas reliefs of the Ten Commandments and the niches hold 52 Saints inside.  In the axis of Rue Royale, an octagonal style portico with a triangular pediment adorned with sculptures treated in high relief and depicting a scene from the Last Judgment ; bronze doors, and nests housing 32 statues of saints.


The interior has a vast nave of about 79 meters long (260 feet) with three bays surrounded by flattened domes . Two beautiful sculptures  such as “The Rapture of Mary Magdalene” in marble ,and “The Baptism of Christ“, on the surface of the dome you will see a fresco covering about 23 feet of “The history and Glorification of Christianity” .  This is the only fresco in a Church in Paris where you see the figure of Napoleon I, surrounded around the Christ, Mary Magdalene ,and the apostles the great personage that marked Christianity such as Constantine, Clovis, Godefroy de Bouillon, Frederick Barberousse, Jeanne d’Arc, Dante, Raphaël, Pius VII , and the emperor in sacred costume.


At the rear of the church, above the high altar, stands a statue depicting St Mary Magdalene being carried up to heaven by two angels.  The half-dome above the altar is covered with a fresco entitled The History of Christianity, showing the key figures in the Christian religion with  perhaps inevitably  Napoleon I occupying center stage.

paris madeleine virgin behind altar mar13

The Church of the Madeleine has a celebrated pipe Organ, built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll  which is widely regarded as one of the best in Paris. The composers Camille Saint-Saëns and Gabriel Fauré were both organists at the Madeleine, and the funerals of Frédéric Chopin, Saint-Saëns, and Fauré were held there.  There are music concerts here with an organ from 1846 ,they are held on Sundays at 16h; this is the site for info in French :  Official concerts at the Church of the Madeleine

paris madeleine side mar13

There are two important persons buried in the Church. These are Pierre-Alexandre Vignon ,principle architect of the Church who expressed in his last will and testament to be buried here. And, Abbey Déguere, a priest of the Church who gave the first communion to the Imperial Prince Louis Napoléon Bonaparte; and was executed by the communards in the rebellion of 1871 in the house of arrest of the rue d’Haxo.

The Church of the Madeleine sits on the wonderful Place de la Madeleine, where a flower market was held since 1834, and there still is places there today as well as the before mentioned stores.


One of the icon monuments of France and a must on a visit to Paris. It was my walking route to work going around it every day was awesome, and I got to have a sentimental touch to this area of Paris ever since.  You will do well to come and visit the Church of Madeleine in Paris.

A Napoleonic webpage on the Church of the MadeleineOfficial Napoleon site on the Church in English

Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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