7.7.11

Jesuits in Paris

Some four years ago, I very briefly mentioned the what is mostly referred to as the Saint-Paul Church, but where the full name should be the Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church, in a post. Last week I had the opportunity to make a closer visit, together with someone who also could open the gates to the present “Lycée Charlemagne”, which used to be a Jesuit convent, of which the church was part.

Around 1580, the Jesuits started to occupy this area. A chapel was built, in 1641 replaced by the church we know today; to some extent using the Jesuit mother church, Chiesa del Gesu in Rome, as model in a baroque style. The Cardinal Richelieu held the first mass.

Originally, the Church was called after Saint Louis, but after the Revolution the nearby Saint-Paul parish church, of which we still can see some traces, was demolished and the Saint-Louis Church, became the Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church, toady thus mostly referred to as Saint-Paul. I made again a comparison between 1739 and today.



































A small “parenthesis”: The Jesuit movement, Society of Jesus, was founded by Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) in 1534 – at Montmartre, in what was called the Martyrium, a small downhill chapel (rebuilt). (You can visit it certain afternoons, - 11 rue Yvonne Le Tac -,not so much to see, but there is a lot of history about the place – Saint Denis, Saint Bernard, Thomas Becket….)
The Jesuit movement has had its ups and downs. The Jesuits remained in the Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis Church and its convent until they were expelled from France in 1763.

The facade is in heavy need of restoration.
The interior, still beautiful, lost a lot of its decorative elements during the Revolution.
Today you may notice a painting by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863) and a sculpture by Germain Pilon (1525-1590). (See previous post 1, 2, about Pilon.)


The ceiling (see top picture) is impressive. You can read the letters “IHS” (the first three letters for Jesus in Greek), the seal of the “company”, and “MA” for Maria.









Also the original organ disappeared during the Revolution and the existent one is more recent (basically 19th century). Some prominent musicians have been active in the Church, especially during the Jesuit times, e.g. Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704). His “Te Deum” was performed here in 1690, well known by Europeans, opening all Eurovision broadcasting. Another one was Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764), organist in the Church.




The surrounding buildings, then the convent, thus today occupied by the well-known high-school, “Lycée Charlemagne”, date also basically from the 17th century.
Not so much left of the interior, but some parts have been saved. You can see the main staircase, with its decorated ceiling...
... and in the neighbour building some other stairs leading to...
... the apartments of the “Father Confessor”, where lived François d’Aix La Chaize (1624-1709), better known as “Père Lachaise”, confessor of Louis XIV during 34 years and who gave his name to the Père Lachaise Cemetery (see previous post). (He later, or also, lived at a Jesuit property, on the land which now is occupied by the cemetery.) A contemporary personality who “perfomed” in the Church and is buried there was Louis Bourdalou (1632-1704), particularly known as fabulous preacher, who attracted crowds, the esteem by leading contemporary and later intellectuals (Corneille, Racine, Voltaire…), often preached at Versailles… His sermons lasted long and the women obviously more or less discretely made use of “personal potties”, which in French also are named “bourdalous”. It is said that this may have given the English word “loo”.

25 comments:

Karen said...

Wonderful post, as usual. I can't wait to get back to Paris to see more of these places.
We plan to do Dinner at Jim's on August 28. Perhaps you can join us?

Catherine said...

the interior is absolutely beautiful indeed - marvellous post and Greetings from mexico (but only until Sunday...)

Montreal Photo Daily said...

5 STARS! Always the perfect host and tour guide Peter. Thank you.
Hello from Montreal.

Siddhartha Joshi said...

This is such an awesome post, I especially liked the snippets from History that you have added here. And the use of map is a superb idea...I started googling after reading the post, such was my curiosity :)

Polly said...

Peter, thank you for this detailed post, as a result I'll be far more attentive to "my neighborhood" church when I return in August!

Virginia said...

Peter, as you may remember this is one of my favorite churches, as it's in the Marais, where I love to spend my time. I"m glad you posted this lovely church. I never tire of finding ways to shoot this place. I probably have more photographs from this church as any in Paris.
V

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Well, I would echo Virginia's sentiments about this church. I have been here on almost every trip I have made to Paris, partly due to its location. On my first several trips I did not know about the Delacroix and until your post I did not know about Bordalou.

Thanks for all the information... what a treasure you are!

Bises,
Genie

Pierre BOYER said...

Toujours très intéressant...
Merci et bonne journée,

Pierre

Olivier said...

beau post, digne d'une encyclopedie

SusuPetal said...

Such beautiful walls and ceiling, aesthetic pleasure for the eye and mind, thank you, Peter.

Adam said...

Wonderfully detailed as usual, covering just about everything you'd need to know about this church!

I wonder why it is so dirty though, and why the necessary renovations are taking so long.

This is Belgium said...

I have passed by this church so many times because like my American friends who wrote here before me I am a huge fan of the Marais. I will pay much closer attention next time, remembering this wonderful posting

Starman said...

Another fantastic post. Where do you get all this information? We really enjoyed your visit yesterday.

hpy said...

T'étais couché pour la première photo?

Flartus said...

Oh Peter, I've just returned from a week staying in an apartment down the street from the church, and right next to the lycée on Rue Charlemagne! We did step into the church to visit, but it was in the middle of a service, so we didn't stay. Unfortunately, I didn't think to look up!

And coincidentally, I once worked in the former chapel of the church on Yvonne le Tac! It's now a collège, and the library (and one small classroom) occupy the chapel space. We stopped by the outside during our visit last week.

I'm so happy to know more about both of these spaces.

Thérèse said...

Les voutes sont splendides et la description bien documentee comme toujours. Super.

orvokki said...

Thank you, Peter, for the wonderfull information.
Hugs :)

Bish Bosh Bash said...

Fasinating and informative post again. Wonderful photo images. All very much befitting this ‘class of the field’ encyclopaedic ‘super blog’. Pure class, and a deserving testament to just how good a city photo blog can be when you put as much effort and talent into it as you clearly have sir. (I’ve stolen the music video links too. Thanks)

My ancestors were Huguenots from Chateau Dun and Lyon la Foret. They just managed to flee France to England, from the fearsome "Dragonnades" in 1680 and start all over again in London. Ironic then that my great uncle was plucked out of abject poverty in the slums of east London in 1910, by the Jesuits, given a superb classical education in Europe, fluency in French & Italian, and later went on to become the Reuters chief in Paris, Rome & Lisbon and a secret agent with Ian Fleming. So in a way, the Catholics kicked us out of France – our Protestant Huguenot ancestry managed to survive London for a couple of hundred years – then the Catholic Jesuits came back into play again and spirited him away to an eventual privileged and somewhat adventurous life in Europe and thence ‘the world’.

Penance paid in full then. Hmmm. Salut.

Vagabonde said...

We stayed in a studio about 3 blocks from this church so we saw it daily and went inside a couple of times. I took several pictures. There were few people in there, a couple of tourists, some Portuguese people and some from Normandie. I usually don’t often go into churches but in this last trip I made an effort to go inside several so I would have pictures. We went during the week inside the churches so maybe that is why I rarely found people from Paris but usually people from other countries or from the provinces. I wonder if the ads the French church has been placing on Facebook have been fruitful?

I enjoyed your post on the history of this church Peter, you always give us so many interesting facts.

joanny said...

Peter:

The photography is superb, the maps of 'then'and the 'now' are excellent --- the attention to the details is phenomenal,

I am stealing a few moments for myself very early in the morning & I do not want to awake my family this early, so I will be back to listen to the music later in the day,
Merci for a delightful and historical post.
Enjoy your week-end.
joanny

claude said...

Quelle belle architecture ! Le portail est magnifique. C'est très beau dedans, des murs au plafond.
Comme dit Thérèse c'est toujours aussi bien documenté.

joanny said...

I especially liked the Charpentier: Te Deum "Prelude"

joanny

Cezar and Léia said...

Magnificent post Peter, I love all pictures, your collages are great and I'm impressed by that door ( Church picture after restoration).
hugs and happy weekend,
Léia

Stephaniej said...

Another beautiful post, giving us all your perspective of the beautiful, beautiful Paris! On another happy note, guess what? I am going to paris in December & january on Student exchange!!!!!! As soon as I found out I new that I had to let you know, and I hope to visit all of the beautiful places you have photographed!!!!

Trotter said...

Great Rameau!!