Saint Serge de Radonege Church – Rue de Crimée
Saint Serge de Radonege Church is one of Paris’ best kept secrets, nestled at 93 rue de Crimée, round the corner from the Parc des Buttes Chaumont.
Push the iron gate and follow the tiny private lane that leads to a red building adorned with a painting of Saint-Sergius of Radonezh.
The lane then skirts the house and runs along a picturesque wooden house converted into a candles production workshop.
From there a flight of uneven stone steps leads to the little church.
The foliage of the old trees that surround it enhance the rich colours of its painted wooden porch and staircase.
Saint Serge de Radonege Church is one of these buildings you immediately fall in love with!
The building started as a Lutheran church built around 1850 for the German community of Paris.
The French government seized it after WWI and sold it to the Russian immigrants who had fled their country after the Revolution of 1917.
Euloge Gueorguievsky was the first Orthodox bishop in France.
He was also the spiritual leader of the Russian Orthodox community of Paris.
He founded Saint Serge de Radonege when the Alexandre Nevsky Cathedral (Rue Daru – 17th district) became too small to accommodate the growing number of immigrants.
The Russian community purchased the building on July 24, 1924, the feast day of St-Sergius of Radonezh, thanks to the numerous and generous donations.
Institut de Théologie Orthodoxe
Euloge Gueorguievsky gathered renowned professors, theologians and religious thinkers and founded the Institut de Théologie Orthodoxe Saint-Serge in 1925.
The institute was awarded the right to issue the degrees of master and doctor of Orthodox Theology before WWII.
In 1953, it implemented an annual Week of Liturgical Studies.
This major event is still highly popular and attracts scholars from all Christian denominations.
The scholars attached to Saint-Serge were invited to teach at the Institut Catholique de Paris (Higher Institute of Ecumenical Studies of Paris) after the Second Vatican Council (which lasted from 11/10/62 to 08/12/65).
Saint-Serge is a renowned theological institute that trains hundreds of priests, bishops and theologians who are then deployed worldwide.
Saint Serge de Radonege – Russian Orthodox cult
The institute’s classrooms are located at ground floor level and the church on the upper level.
In 1925 Dimitri Stelletsky painted the murals of the wooden staircase that leads up to the church, as well as the door.
He found inspiration in traditional orthodox religious scenes from the 16th century.
The interior of the church is equally striking and boasts an exceptional iconostasis of over a hundred icons.
The 16th century painted doors that enclose the shrine come from Germany.
Saint Serge de Radonege Church is closed to the public during the week, but you can discover it during the Sunday morning service.
However, remember that this is a place of worship, so respect and discretion are ‘a must’.
Jardin Saint Serge
Once the visit over you can relax in the Jardin Saint-Serge, under the shade of the old trees and listen to the many birds that nest there.
Passionate volunteers tend this little community garden (jardin partagé) and maintain its biodiversity.
They explain you that the limestone soil doesn’t retain water, so they carefully select species of flowering plants that thrive in the shade and leave room for wild species that bloom throughout the year.
They collect leaves to make their own compost and protect the plants during the winter.
Finally, they also keep a stack of wood where the insects can shelter and maintain the ecosystem.
The garden is a little oasis of greenery.
Directions: 19th District – No.93 rue de Crimée
Metro: Laumière, Ourcq on Line 5
Coordinates: Lat 48.883453 – Long 2.383802