Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sacre-Coeur, Paris

On the hilltop of Montmarte is a large church built in thanksgiving that Paris had been spared during the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870s. Work began in 1875 with a Romano-Byzantine design. The church was completed in 1914 but not consecrated until 1919. World War I interrupted a lot of things back then. The church is Sacre-Coeur, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sacre-Coeur, Paris

The Ovoid Dome on the top of the basilica is the second highest point in Paris (the Eiffel Tower being the highest). Several bronze statues adorn the exterior of the church. In the back of the church St. Michael the Archangel vanquishes the demon in the form of a crocodile; in the front both St. Louis and St. Joan of Arc ride horseback over the entrance.

St. Michael guards the back door

St. Louis (with Joan of Arc) guards the front doors

The bell tower in the back has one of the heaviest bells in the world, weighing over 18 tons. The clapper is almost one ton by itself! The bell is called the Savoyarde. Its tone is a deep middle C. Four other bells are hung in the tower.

Bell Tower, completed in 1895

The front of the church overlooks Paris and is a popular spot for people to hang out and enjoy the view.

View of Paris

The bronze doors that lead into the church feature scenes from the life of Christ.

Entrance door

The interior is quite amazing, though photography is not allowed. I've taken the liberty of scanning a few images from the guide book I bought there.

The most striking thing in the interior is the large mosaic over the main altar. Jesus appears in white robes showing His golden Sacred Heart to all. Just below him are Joan of Arc on the right and Pope Leo XIII, who consecrated the human family to the Sacred Heart in 1899.

Main mosaic of the Sacred Heart (text from the brochure)

Other mosaics show the heavenly family of saints looking on piously at Jesus, including Saint Denis with his head in his hand! St. Denis was the first missionary to Paris back when it was known as Lutetia (the Roman name). He was martyred on Montmatre by beheading. Legend has it he picked up his head and walked off with it. More on that story in the next post.

French saints worship the Sacred Heart

St. Denis

Many side altars are dedicated to various saints, mostly French but others like Saint Joseph are thrown in too. In the Crypt are less ornate altars, including the chapel of Saint Peter where St. Theresa of the Child Jesus dedicated herself to the Sacred Heart.

Chapel of the Queens of France

St. Joseph Chapel

Pieta in the Crypt

St. Peter's Chapel, where the Little Flower dedicated herself to the Sacred Heart

The church is still in use with masses, Eucharistic adoration, and the sacrament of confession available every day.

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