Thursday, March 29, 2012

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 32

Paris, Saint Étienne-du-Mont, exterior

Paris, Saint Étienne-du-Mont, interior

Since I am getting ready to take a trip to France it was fun to come across several postcards of Paris scenes from about the 1890s to the 1900s. The two cards here are of the church Saint Étienne-du-Mont in Paris. This church has a rich history beginning in the 6th century when an abbey was established on the burial site of Sainte-Genevieve.

The church was first dedicated to the Virgin Mary and then later to St. John. As the population grew the original church became too small to accommodate all the members so in 1222 Pope Honorius III authorized the establishment of a new church devoted this time to Saint Étienne (Saint Stephen) who was at that time the patron saint of the old cathedral in Paris.

About 100 years later the in the early 1300s the increasing population necessitated enlargement of the church and then a complete reconstruction began about 160 years after that in the late 1400s when once again the population overwhelmed the church. The abbey monks donated a portion of their land for the construction of the new church. This massive reconstruction project took from 1492 to 1626 to be completed. Ten years after completion of the new church the organ was installed in 1636, then in 1651 a new pulpit.

During the 17th and 18th centuries Saint Étienne enjoyed prestige and was the scene of great processions. During the French Revolution the church was first closed and then turned into a “Temple of Filial Piety.” Catholic worship was restored in 1801. Two modern Popes, Pius VII and John Paul II celebrated Mass in this church. It was described in 1895 as one of the most beautiful churches in Paris. Additional trivia for those who have seen the movie, Midnight in Paris, the west steps of Saint Étienne are where the character Gil Pender played by actor Owen Wilson sits and is where he was transported from modern day Paris to the 1920s.

For more information about Saint Étienne-du-Mont seeÉtienne -du-Mont

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