The Île-Saint-Louis church

The Saint-Louis island, Île Saint-Louis, was once actually two small islands, one has been named Île Notre-Dame since the 9th century, the other, smaller one, was named Île aux Vaches, the “cow island”. Both islands were mainly used for cattle, stocking of wood… It was only during the 17th century that the island started to be developed. Henry IV, who died in 1610, had launched the idea, but the real development took place during the reign of his son, Louis XIII (1601-43), supported by his mother Marie de Medicis.  The responsibility for the development was given to Christopher Marie, who gave his name to the bridge Pont Marie, the first bridge to connect the island with the northern banks of the Seine River… and it's still there (see previous post).  

The island received a number of prestigious buildings, most of them dating from the middle of the 17th century. I have written about some of them, e.g. here and here.

… and there was of course a need of a church... and the church is there, squeezed in between some old buildings, along the central street of the island. It is in heavy need of cleaning / restoration of the outside. Even the famous church clock with its original installation is in bad shape.

A first little chapel was built in 1623, replaced by a real church, built between 1664 and 1679. The major architect was François le Vau (1613-76), but it was partly destroyed – the roof broke down during a heavy storm… and the church was rebuilt during the first part of the 18th century, officially inaugurated in 1726. The original tower was destroyed already in 1740 (storm again) and the present one was erected in 1765, with a rather surprising design, with great “holes” leaving the wind some possibility to pass by – they were fed up with the storm damages. 

Some modifications took place later, much in a baroque style, but this concerns of course basically the interior. Much of the “gold” was added during the 19th century.

The patron saint of the church is Saint Louis, King Louis IX (1214-70), and you can find him as a statue under the newly renovated organ…   

… and you find him also in the apse of the church, surrounded by his mother, Blanche de Castille (1188-1252), and his sister, Isabelle de France (1225-70), who also became a saint.

Some other stained glass windows…

During the revolutionary years, large parts of the interior of the church were demolished. Surprisingly enough the early 18th century statues of Virgin Mary and Sainte Geneviève were saved - they were quickly transformed to represent "Liberté” and “Egalité”.

The different small chapels along the walls offer a number of masterpieces, some from the 15th and 16th century, a painting by Carle van Loo (1705-65)..., however so much was in the dark, that it was often impossible to get some neat pictures… sorry.

I wanted to walk up in the tower, but the door was closed.     


Anonymous said...

Your photography perfectly describes the beauty of that church and that area.
Thank you, Peter.

Jeanie said...

I've always loved this church -- it has wonderful light. But what I love most is the St. Genevieve statue. I nearly used a photo I did of that for an Easter card.