Saint-Paul Church

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church - Baroque facade on rue St-Antoine
Baroque facade on rue St-Antoine

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church is located in the historic Marais on the Right Bank.

It is dedicated to St. Louis (King Louis IX).

However, in 1802 it was also dedicated to St. Paul the First Hermit, in memory of Saint-Paul Church.

This parish church was built in 1125 to replace the 7th century Chapelle Saint-Paul-des-Champs, which had become too small.

It stood near the Hôtel Saint-Pol, the residence of Charles V.

It was pulled down at the French Revolution, but vestiges are still visible at the corner of the current Rue Saint-Paul and Rue Neuve-Saint-Pierre.

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church built by the Jesuits

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church stands next to a large section of the rampart King Philippe-Auguste built in the late 12th century.

These fortifications protected Paris until the second half of the 14th century.

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church - Pulpit and 'Christ in agony in the Garden of Olives' painting by Delacroix to the right
Pulpit and ‘Christ in agony in the Garden of Olives’ painting by Delacroix to the right

Charles V then erected a new wall in order to extend the Right Bank’s boundaries and accommodate an ever-growing population.

In 1533, Francois I demolished this second rampart in order to generate additional building land.

The Hôtel de Rochepot was located on this ‘new land’, along Rue Saint-Antoine.

The street then led to the fortified Porte Saint-Antoine and Bastille Fortress.

The Jesuits bought the mansion in 1580 and built a church dedicated to St. Louis.

When both the mansion and church became too small, Louis XIII gave the Jesuits a plot of land adjacent to Philippe-Auguste’s Wall.

The king laid the first stone of Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church on March 16, 1627.

Three architects overlooked its construction until its completion in 1641.

The church was consecrated on Ascension Day, May 9, 1641 under the name of Eglise Saint-Louis.

Cardinal Richelieu celebrated the first Mass with great fanfare, in the presence of the king and his court, and 15 bishops!

Baroque architecture

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church - Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church is a harmonious blend of French and Italian Baroque architectures.

It was largely inspired by the Church of the Gesù in Rome.

Its impressive facade incorporated several Gothic and Dutch features.

The church’s impressive dimensions  show that it was especially built for preaching.

Many famous preachers indeed came there until the dissolution of the Jesuit Order in 1762.

The single nave could accommodate large congregations, and the apse’s large opening let the light pour in.

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church’s treasures

This beautiful church contains a wealth of post French Revolution religious works of art.

Saint-Paul Saint-Louis Church
Church interior

This includes renowned paintings such as the Christ in agony in the Garden of Olives by Delacroix, The Death of St. Louis by Jacques de Letin, a Crucifixion of Christ recovered from the chapel of the Bastille prison, but also sculptures such as La Vierge del Douleur by Germain Pilon.

The church boasts 3 organs; one built by Martin in 1871 and a 19th century choir organ built by Krischer.

The great organ, built by Buffet in 1867, is a classified Historical Monument.

Victor Hugo bequeathed the two clam-shells fonts to the church on the occasion of the wedding of his daughter Léopoldine in 1843.

Take the time to visit this church, you won’t be disappointed.

Directions: 4th district – 99 Rue Saint-Antoine
Metro: Saint-Paul on Line 1
Coordinates: Lat 48.854854 – Long 2.361618

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