Église Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris
St-Germain-des-Prés is the oldest church in Paris. Parts of it date
to the 6th century, when a Benedictine abbey was founded on the site
by Childebert, son of Clovis.
The church was originally
founded by Childebert to house a relic of the True Cross brought
from Spain in 542. In the Middle Ages, the Church of St-Germain-des-Pres
was so powerful, both religiously and culturally, that it became
like a town within the town.
Unfortunately, the Normans all
but destroyed the abbey at least four times, and only the marble
columns in the triforium remain from the original structure. The
carved capitals on the pillars are copies of the originals, which
are kept in the Musée National du Moyen-Age.
The church was
enlarged and reconsecrated by Pope Alexander III in 1163. The abbey
was completely destroyed during the Revolution, but the church was
The present building, incorporating repairs and
enlargements from various eras, is a fine example of Romanesque
architecture. The Romanesque square tower, dating from the early
11th century, is topped by the church's landmark spire, which dates
to the 19th century.
Inside, the church consists of a
Romanesque nave and a Gothic choir with gilded capitals. The marble
columns of the triforium are the only survivors of the 6th-century
For a time, the abbey was a pantheon for
Merovingian kings. Many of them were buried in the Chapelle de St-Symphorien,
which was restored in 1981. Among the others interred here are
Descartes (just his heart; the rest is in the Pantheon) and Jean-Casimir,
the king of Poland who abdicated his throne.
19th-century frescoes in the nave are by Hippolyte Flandrin, a pupil
of the classical master Ingres. Romanesque paintings were discovered
on the triumphal arch in the 1981 restorations.
stages concerts and recitals featuring Gregorian chant, which are
enhanced by the church's fantastic acoustics and medieval
St-Germain-des-Pres is located in the lively
Left Bank neighbourhood of the same name, which is itself well worth
a visit. Facing the church is the Café des Deux Magots which, like
its neighbor the Café de Flore, was the favourite haunt of
intellectuals like Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir immediately after
World War II.
|This coat of arms is set
above the tomb of Lord James Douglas
||William, 10th Earl's coat of
The abbey contains the tomb of
Earl of Angus
Also buried here are:
George Douglas, 1st Earl of Dumbarton
William Douglas, 1st Marquess of Douglas
Lord James Douglas
- A fine memorial was erected to his memory in the Chapelle de
Sainte-Thérèse, within the Abbey Church.
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