Quartier Saint-Médard’s church
Saint-Medard Church is located at the southern end of Rue Mouffetard.
This section of the 5th district was once known as Quartier Saint-Médard.
Rue Mouffetard is one of the most picturesque and lively streets of Paris.
It replaces the Roman road that linked antic Paris – Lutetia to Lyon.
It is believed that a first church was built in the 7th century by the place where the old road crossed the small river Bièvre.
However, the Norman invaders destroyed it during their 9th century raids and the church was not rebuilt until the 12th century!
Saint-Medard Church depended of the influential Abbaye de Sainte-Geneviève.
The legend of Saint-Medard
The church was dedicated to St. Medardus.
The bishop of Noyon in Vermandois (north of France) lived in the 5th-6th centuries.
St. Medard certainly is the most invoked patron saints in France when it comes to weather!
His name indeed gave rise to the famous saying:
Quand il pleut à la St Medard, il pleut 40 jours plus tard!
If it rains on St Medardus’ Day, it rains for forty days more!
Legend has it that young Medardus was once protected from the rain by the wings of an eagle that kept hovering over him (a forerunner of the umbrella!?)
It was logical that St. Medard should later be invoked against bad weather, and of course against the rain and by extrapolation against infertility!
St Medard became also the patron saint of winemakers, brewers, farmers as well as captives and prisoners and the mentally ill!
St. Medard is the French equivalent of the English St Swithun.
Farmers monitor the weather on June 8, his feast day.
They indeed say that if it rains that day, it will rain for the following 40 days… unless the weather changes on St Barnabas’ Day on June 11!
Saint-Medard Church through the centuries
Saint-Medard Church was enlarged in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.
The last major additions were the Chapelle de la Vierge and presbytery in the 18th century.
The church therefore boasts a superb Gothic Flamboyant nave adorned with five beautifully sculpted key vaults and a wooden vaulted chancel (a unique architectural feature in Paris!)
Saint-Medard Church escaped destruction during the French Revolution as it was converted into a Temple of Work!
The public garden Square Saint-Médard, on its southern side, was developed in the 19th century over the largest of its two cemeteries.
The Chapel of the Catechism was erected in 1901 on the site of the older and smaller cemetery (northern side).
Additional improvement work took place in the 20th century.
A modern stone altar was indeed installed in the chancel.
The archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Vingt-Trois, consecrated it on September 11, 2011.
A wealth of architectural and decorative features
Saint-Medard Church is little known to tourists, despite being situated at the bottom of the lively Rue Mouffetard.
It’s a shame because it contains a wealth of architectural and artistic features.
You’ll indeed find murals, paintings on wood and canvas produced by renown painters.
You’ll also see a Gobelins tapestry and magnificent 16th century stained glass as well as contemporary ones dating from 1941.
The buffet and the instrumental part of the organ were listed as Historical Monuments in 1980.
The buffet dates from the 17th century, but was rebuilt in the 18th century by the famous organ builder Clicquot.
The instrumental part dates from the late 19th century.
Saint-Medard Church also owns a choir organ dating from 1964.
You’ll find it in one of the lateral chapels by the chancel.
Why don’t you visit Saint-Medard Church after lunch in one of the many restaurants and cafes or simply after as troll in the market along Rue Mouffetard!
The Marché de la Rue Mouffetard takes place every morning from Tuesday to Sunday.
On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday it also links up with the Marché Monge on the nearby Place Monge (via Rue Ortolan).
Not to be missed!
Directions: 5th District – No141 rue Mouffetard
Metro: Censier Daubeton or Place Monge on Line 7
Coordinates: Lat 48.839727 – Long 2.349983