Church Saint Gervais-Saint Protais , Paris

In walking around my eternal Paris I often wonder how much time will take to catalog it all! I have an extensive library at home on architecture, history, and things to see in Paris in addition to around 100K pictures in cd roms ,external hard drives etc. However, each time I go out amazing things comes to view. A while back , walking the streets around the Hôtel de Ville I saw this church. Mind you, I know what it is but never had the time or effort to stop by. Until then,and now will like to tell you a bit more on the Saint Gervais-Saint Protais Church , briefly….

The Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais Church, located opposite the Paris City/Town Hall,across La Poste (post office) would benefit from being better known. It is indeed one of the most beautiful in Paris, with remarkable Renaissance stained glass!. Conceived by the wardens of the parish as a recasting and an extension of a previous consecrated church in 1420, it took almost one hundred and fifty years to build it. The chapels of the choir were first erected to the north, that of the axis, then those to the south. It was then refitted the central vessel of the choir. The western facade, where the three classical orders are imposed, was not completed until 1621. This facade served as a model for other Parisian churches. During the French revolution, Saint-Gervais will remain closed for a few years. It is reopened under the Directory and will suffer little from the turmoil. In 1802, it regained its status as a Catholic parish.It should be added that the church underwent extensive restoration at the start of the 21C.

The architect of Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais Church remains unknown. Anyway, the Saint-Gervais-Saint Protais Church has a narrow nave, marked by a very studied slenderness effect. Saint-Gervais is part of the history of Renaissance churches in Paris, in the flamboyant Gothic style. The 19C it has adorned its numerous chapels with murals that the exiguity of the architecture or the reflections of the light do not always allow to appreciate in good conditions. In the choir of the 16C stalls will delight the visitor with their variety of scenes from everyday life and small trades on the mercies. On the second level of the nave and the choir, magnificent and large canopies from the 16C illuminate the church. The stained glass windows of the Chapel of the Virgin and the famous stained glass window of the Wisdom of Solomon in a chapel south of the ambulatory. Note that the old white glasses of the lost canopies have been replaced by creations by modern artists. As for worship, since 1975, the Saint-Gervais-Saint Protais Church is no longer parish, but assigned to the monastic liturgies of the Fraternities of Jerusalem.


The exterior of Saint-Gervais-Saint Protais Church shows the church is almost entirely hidden by so-called perimeter-Saint-Gervais buildings. To the south, a narrow passage runs along the wall without the possibility of retreating. There remains the apse and the facade. Fortunately the facade is worthy of praise. It is the first erected in classical style in Paris. It is 1616 and this facade is an addition to the already built church. The architect therefore attaches its facade to the Gothic nave by creating an additional span. The two ends are closed by a chapel in an ogival quarter circle. The discerning eye immediately sees there the three classic orders: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. The first level accommodates four pairs of columns. These pairs are repeated on the second level, only enriched by two niches housing the statues of the two legendary Saints Gervais and Protais. The Ionic order of the second level is crowned by Saint Matthew and Saint John. The elegance of the facade would only be a word without the beautiful slenderness of the third level. The Corinthian order occupies only the central part. Two pairs of columns surround a large canopy, the whole is surmounted by a curved pediment, hollowed out in its center. The facade of Saint-Gervais, which will serve as a model in France and Europe, heralds the arrival of the Baroque!.

Some details of the interior beautifully architecturally done that I like are.

The baptismal font Chapel dates from the beginning of the 17C. Its existence is due to the creation of the west facade, built from 1616 to 1621 in front of the church. There is a Chapel commemorating the catastrophe of March 29, 1918. At the beginning of 1918, the Brest-Litovsk armistice enabled Germany to launch a vast offensive in the West. The Germans were approaching Paris. Towards Laon, with cannons installed on rail, they began to bomb Paris. On March 29, a large caliber shell fell on the nave of Saint-Gervais. The church, where the Good Friday Mass was to begin, was packed. The shell punctured part of the vault which collapsed on the faithful, killing 89 people and wounding 90 others. The base of the main altar houses a copy of the Dormition of the Virgin. This work, dating from the 13C, is located in the base of the altar in the north side Chapel of Saint-Laurent. On both sides of the altar take place the two wooden statues of Gervais and Protais, carved around 1620.


The stained glass window of the Wisdom of Solomon c.1531; it is one of the most beautiful Renaissance stained glass windows in Paris .The state of conservation of this stained glass window is so exceptional that experts from the 20C took original pieces for 19C restorations. The Judgment is spread over four lancets and consists of only one scene. It is a so-called unified canopy and, in 1531, it was even one of the first unified canopies posed in Paris. The author of the stained glass rest unknown.  The Chapelle de Brégy chapel , apart from three large murals , the Brégy chapel houses the fragment of the funerary monument of Michel Le Tellier, a 17C work designed after the drawings of Jules Hardouin-Mansart. Nearby, you can also admire three prayers: those of the Potier family, husband, wife and son. The two windows are modern. The artist Sylvie Gaudin made a total of five very futuristic representations of the major themes of Christianity (Nativity, Crucifixion, Pentecost, etc.). The Chapelle de la Piéta is on the north side, very well lit by two white glass windows, offers a very beautiful Pieta surrounded by two angels in adoration. also chiseled a beautiful Ecce Homo, rich in draperies. Finally enriched the walls with four beautiful murals including The Works of Mercy and Jesus and the Evangelists showing the Evangelists writing under the inspiration of Christ. One of the two windows has a remnant of Renaissance stained glass in the tympanum. It illustrates the martyrdom of Saint James.

The Chapelle de la Vierge with great depth, the chapel of the axis of Saint-Gervais-Saint Protais Church was completed in 1517. The chapel of the Virgin is an artistic center of the Church of Saint-Gervais-Saint Protais. The Renaissance left the overall architecture and stained glass there, the 19C enriched it with paintings, an altarpiece and a statue of the Virgin. The three axial canopies, dated 1517, year of completion of the chapel, and which illustrate scenes from the life of the Virgin, 19C paintings illustrate scenes from the life of the Virgin as well as virtues. Let me add that the stained glass windows to the north show a remnant of the Tree of Jesse from the 16C with the Virgin and the patriarchs Isaac and Abraham. This Tree was partially completed in the 19C when David, Jacob and Solomon were added. The keystone of the Choir bears the date of 1540. The large canopies therefore had to be put in place after this date, that is to say around the year 1550. The large canopies of Saint-Gervais in the nave and the choir of Saint-Gervais offer, in their upper parts, a magnificent panorama of stained glass windows from the Renaissance period.  The gallery organ of Saint-Gervais-Saint Protais Church is a unique specimen in Paris of organs from the 16C and 17C. First built in the south transept in 1601, the large buffet dates from 1601. It was decorated in 1759.

Some webpages to help you enjoy this wonderful church are

Fraternity of Jerusalem of St Gervais, Paris in French: Fraternity of Jerusalem on the St Gervais St Protais Church

Catholic Paris on Ch St Gervais St Protais in French:  Catholic Paris on St Gervais St Protais Church

The tourist office of Paris on St Gervais St Protais Church in English: Tourist office of Paris on St Gervais St Protais Church

And there you go folks, another wonderful monument to visit while in Paris, the list is endless but I am working on it, hope you enjoy it and follow me along! The St Gervais St Protais Church of Paris is commonly just call the St Gervais. And I know need to work on those pictures ::)

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

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