One way to reach the beautiful church Saint-Etienne-du-Mont is to walk up the Rue-de-la-Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève (see previous post). If you push the doors of this building from 1733, at number 34, you will find one of the nicest courtyards in this area. A number of small, nice, buildings were added here during the early 19th century, today with some private homes and some medical and legal practices. Earlier and until the 1789-Revolution the place was occupied by the “Collège des trente-trois”. We are in the middle of the old university area with origins from the 11th and 12the centuries. Students were during centuries basically lodged in different “collèges”.
This building was constructed in the middle of the 18th century to house 33 ("trente-trois") – poor- students – the number refers to the age of Jesus. The staircase – five floors – is impressive with well worn wooden steps. One little gate leads to a back street. Today, the building houses among other things a leading club for martial arts.
For the "collège", there was of course also originally a chapel to be found. However, the little church building which you can find at the other end of the courtyard, with entrance from a parallel street (Rue des Carmes) seems however to have nothing to do with this “collège”. Several churches have existed here since 14th century, including the chapel of the “Collège des Lombards”, later for the “Irlandais” (the Irish) for which the present church was constructed in 1733. Since 1925 it’s called “Saint Ephrem le Syriaque”. The liturgy here is referred to as “Jerusalem and Antioch” and the language used is Amaraic-Syriac, which obviously was Jesus’ mother language.