Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Etienne du Mont, Paris

For our Sunday Mass, we went to St. Etienne du Mont in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The church dates back to the medieval period and is a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance styles.

St. Etienne du Mont

Side view as we approached it from our morning cafe visit

The interior is amazingly ornate. The Rood Screen dates from 1541 and is the only one from that period in Paris.

Renaissance Rood Screen

Stairs next to the rood screen

The main altar behind the rood screen is also quite impressive.

Central altar

A nice surprise was to find the burial spot of Blaise Pascal, literary, scientific, and philosophical figure from the 1600s.

Blaise Pascal's final resting place

Several interesting side altars provide a sampling of the Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Side altar

Altar and tomb

The relics of St. Genevieve (Patron of Paris) were housed here until the Revolution when they were thrown into a sewer in 1793.

Shrine to St. Genevieve

The old pulpit is still there, though it was not used during Mass. The priest had the typical microphone for amplification. Discreetly integrated speakers filled the church with his words. I couldn't follow the homily at all since I know so little French.


The organ was used during Mass and was nice to hear. Again, I couldn't sing along since I don't know French and the tunes were unfamiliar.


Who was St. Etienne?

The name of the church derives from the original cathedral in Paris which was dedicated to St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr (ironically killed while Saul, who later became the Apostle Paul, watched) described in the Acts of the Apostles (chapter six). He had been selected as a deacon in the nascent Jerusalem church. He came into conflict members of a local synagogue who denounced him to the Sanhedrin (the Jewish court). During his trial, he had a vision of Christ standing at the right hand of God, which infuriated the court and a mob took him outside and stoned him to death. His feast day is December 26 in the West and December 27 in the East.

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