Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul

By annesophie | June 23, 2011 | Filed under: Churches, Miscellaneous

Saint-Vincent-de-PaulThe Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul is located in the 10e arrondissement of Paris, and is dedicated to Saint Vincent de Paul. It gave its name to Saint-Vincent-de-Paul district.

The church was built during 1824-1844, on the site of the former Saint-Lazare jail enclosure. In that enclosure had been sited the Maison Saint-Lazare, occupied by Vincent de Paul— he lived and worked there — and afterwards by the Congrégation de la Mission, from 1632 to 1793.

Jean-Baptiste Lepère, a French achitect, had been put in charge of the church’s design and the initial phases of construction.  The first stone was laid in August 1824 in the presence of the préfet de la Seine, Gaspard de Chabrol, and the archbishop of Paris Mgr de Quélen. Work proceeded slowly, and was several times given up, being especially delayed thanks to a lack of credit as a result of the 1830 Revolution. Therefore, it was Lepère’s son-in-law, Jacques Hittorff, who finally followed the project through from 1831 to 1844. The building opened for religious practice on 25 October 1844.

Hittorff massively modified the initial plans (which did not plan for even one tower), with his church opening onto the Place Franz-Liszt, giving the building a church square. He also added a system of ramps, laid out today in gardens, to aid access by horse-drawn carriages.

The church’s basilical plan evokes several grand schemes of religious architecture without specifically copying one in particular. Above the portico (borrowed from those of Greek temples) is a pediment sculpted by Charles-François Lebœuf-Nanteuil on the subject of “The Apotheosis of Saint Vincent-de-Paul”: the saint is glorified, surrounded by figures symbolising his saintly actions— a missionary, a galley slave, and some Daughters of Charity devoting themselves to children or to healing the sick. Inside, the painted frieze of 1848-53 around the nave (between the two levels of columns) is by Hippolyte Flandrin, and shows 160 male and female saints advancing towards the sanctuary. The decoration of the Lady Chapel, in the apse added later at the back, is by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. The Calvary shown on the main altar is by François Rude.

The building suffered during the Paris Commune: the bell towers were hit by seven shells, and the terrace and ramps by more than twenty, all fired from the Père Lachaise Cemetery.

The Church of Saint-Vincent-de-Paul is close to the Eurostar and mainline station Gare du Nord, and so is twinned with St Pancras Old Church (a church in London close to the new St Pancras International station). This twinning was inaugurated on 11 December 2007 with a bilingual service at St Pancras Old Church.


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Hotel Annexe, 4 rue Taylor, 75010 Paris


Tags: church, saint-vincent-de-paul

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