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SAINTE- CHAPELLE / CHURCHES OF PARIS

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King Louis IX was a deeply religious man. In 1241 he paid a frightfully large sum of money to the Emperor of Constantinople in order to obtain certain relics. The milk of the Virgin Mary, a part of John the Baptist’s head, and the Crown of Thorns, among other items, Louis now possessed. It was only fitting that he build a royal chapel to house them in.

Completed in 1248, Sainte-Chapelle took only two years to erect…a blink of an eye compared to the nearly two hundred years of construction which took place at Notre Dame de Paris. The lower level of the chapel served common worshipers and the upper chapel, oh, la la, was directly accessed by the royals from the adjacent palace.

It’s all about the windows upstairs, fifteen pictorial panels of vibrant blues, reds and greens, telling stories from the Old and New Testaments. The Window of Christ’s Passion is a ravishing depiction of an event many artists have attempted to glorify, The Last Supper. Consider that two-thirds of the glass remains from the original 13th century installation. During the French Revolution, Sainte-Chapelle, like so many other historic monuments of Paris, was torn apart. Fortunately for us, the magnificent stained glass survived.

Louis IX was born in 1217, and canonized by the Roman Catholic Church twenty-seven years after his death in 1297. He is the only King of France to have been awarded that distinction. During his reign, France prospered and flourished both economically and in the arts. The acquisition of the relics, prizes fought over by the rulers of many kingdoms, elevated the reputation of Paris to that of “greatest city in Western Europe”. He was a Crusader, a diplomat and a devout Catholic who considered himself to be the “lieutenant of God on Earth”. Saint Louis died during his second crusade, in Tunis and one finger only, is all that his tomb at Saint-Denis contains. The city of Saint Louis, Missouri is named for him.

Place of worship, sanctuary, chapel of holy relics, Sainte-Chapelle is best experienced in the late afternoon, when the soft rays of Northern light pierce the colored glass and the Upper Chapel is transformed into a Gothic masterpiece of illumination.

SAINTE-CHAPELLE
2 Boulevard du Palais
1st Arrondisement
Metro: Cite
Open Daily
April-Sept 9:30am-6:30pm
Oct-March 10am-5pm



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