Sacré-Cœur, Paris

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur, is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France. A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the excesses of the Second Empire and socialist Paris Commune of 1871 crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ. The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919.

The origin of the construction of the Basilica, a “National Vow”

In 1870 war broke out between France and Germany. The Council that was being held in the Vatican at the time was suspended and the Pope, no longer under the protection of French troops, considered himself a prisoner within the Vatican. France was defeated and partially occupied by German troops. The initiative of Alexandre Legentil and Hubert Rohault de Fleury was a spiritual one. They vowed to build a church dedicated to the Sacred Heart “as reparation” (i.e. as penance for infidelity and sin) for they held that the misfortunes of France had spiritual rather than political causes.
At the end of 1872 Cardinal Guibert, Archbishop of Paris, approved the vow and chose Montmartre. At the end of 1873 he got the French Parliament to pass a law declaring that the Basilica was in the public interest, thereby making the land available for the construction of a church. At the time the construction of a Basilica dedicated to the Sacred Heart contrasted with a series of Basilicas dedicated to the Virgin Mary during the same period in Lourdes, Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon and Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseilles. The work was funded from donations – in many cases modest – collected throughout France, the names of the donors being carved in the stone.


The basilica is home to a large and very fine pipe organ built by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll for a private home in Biarritz, composed of 109 ranks and 78 speaking stops spread across four 61-note manuals and the 32-note pedalboard (unusual before the start of the 20th century; the standard of the day was 56 and 30), spread across three expressive divisions (also unusual for the time, even in large organs); the organ was ahead of its time, containing multiple expressive divisions and giving the performer considerable advantages over other even larger instruments of the day. It was almost identical (tonal characteristics, layout, and casework) to the instrument in Sheffield’s Albert Hall, destroyed by fire in 1934. However, when installed in Paris in 1905 by Cavaillé-Coll’s successor and son-in-law, Charles Mutin, it lost its fine case for a much plainer one.

Role in the Church

In response to requests from French bishops, Pope Pius IX promulgated the feast of the Sacred Heart in 1856. The basilica itself was consecrated on 16 October 1919. Since 1885 (before construction had been completed), the Blessed Sacrament (a consecrated host which, according to Church teaching, has become by the consecration of the priest Christ’s Body and Blood during Mass) has been continually on display in a monstrance above the high altar. Perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament has continued uninterrupted in the Basilica since 1885. Because of this, tourists and others are asked to dress appropriately when visiting the basilica and to observe silence as much as possible, so as not to disturb persons who have come from around the world to pray in this place of pilgrimage.


The Basilica is accessible by bus. Buses 30, 31, 80, and 85 can be taken to the bottom of the hill of the Basilica. Line 12 of the metro can be taken to Jules Joffrin station and visitors can then change to the Montmartrobus and disembark at Place du Tertre. Line 2 or 12 of the metro can be taken to Pigalle station where visitors can change to the Montmartrobus and disembark at Norvins, or to Anvers station which gives easy access to the steps or the funicular car that lead directly to the Basilica.

Sacré-Cœur is open from 06:00 to 22:30 every day.
The dome is accessible from 09:00 to 19:00 in the summer and 18:00 in the winter


The Sacré-Cœur Basilica and Butte Montmartre

The Sacré-Cœur Basilica consecrated in 1919, is one of Paris’s most iconic landmarks. Built at the top of the Butte Montmartre, it offers one of the most beautiful, panoramic views of the capital, at over 130 metres above sea level. Romano-Byzantine in style, the basilica is recognizable by its white colour. Inside the building, the ceiling is decorated with the largest mosaic in France, measuring 480 m. The crypt is also worth a visit. And for an even better view, you can climb to the top of the dome, where the 360° view of Paris is truly breathtaking. A tour of this not-to-be-missed landmark should be followed by a wander through the historic area of Montmartre with the Place du Tertre and its famous caricaturists, the Dalí museum, the Montmartre vineyard, the Lapin Agile cabaret, the Place des Abbesses, etc. Continue your walk back down towards the Moulin Rouge, the legendary cabaret famed for its wild evenings the world over. On you way, enjoy the creative, trendy boutiques of the Rue des Abbesses and Tardieu, the shops on the Rue Lepic, the cosmopolitan Rue de Steinkerque, the racy district of Pigalle, with its sex shops, and Montmartre cemetery. A short walk from the Moulin Rouge, in SoPi (South Pigalle), the Musée de la Vie Romantique offers a fine tea room and peaceful gardens.


who wished to stay present
among us through
Your Holy Eucharist, the mystery of your love,
we unite ourselves to all those
who come to adore You
in spirit and in truth.

Praying day and night,
we would like to offer our presence
to Your Presence.
Allow us to listen to You in silence,
as You wish to reveal Yourself
to us in the secret of our hearts.
Help us to abandon ourselves to You:
may the praise and supplication,
and the confident gift of our lives
raise up from our hearts.

May Your Sacred Heart, source of all mercy,
establish our hearts in peace
and inner joy. May it strengthen
our faith, renew our love,
and sustain our hope. Amen.

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