The Church of St Eustache, Paris – L’église Saint-Eustache, is a church in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. The present building was built between 1532 and 1632.
Situated at the entrance to Paris’ ancient markets (Les Halles) and the beginning of rue Montorgueil, St Eustace’s is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The church’s reputation was strong enough at the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive his First Communion. Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here in the 17th century. The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls. Marie de Gournay is buried there.
Situated in Les Halles, an area of Paris once renowned for fresh produce of all kinds, the origins of Saint Eustache date back to the 13th century. The church became a parish church in 1223, thanks to a man named Jean Alais who achieved this by taxing the baskets of fish sold nearby.
The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity.
During the French Revolution the church, like most churches in Paris, was desecrated, looted, and used for a time as a barn. The church was restored after the Revolution had run its course and remains in use today. Several impressive paintings by Rubens remain in the church today. Each summer, organ concerts commemorate the premieres of Berlioz’s Te Deum and Liszt’s Christus here in 1886. The church is an example of a Gothic structure clothed in Renaissance detail.
The Chapel of the Virgin was built in 1640 and restored from 1801 to 1804. It was inaugurated by Pius VII on the 22nd of December, 1804 when he came to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon.
The apse chapel, with a ribbed cul-de-four vault, has at its centre a sculpture of the Virgin and Child of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle that the painter Thomas Couture highlighted by three large paintings on the themes:
Paintings of the Chapel of the Virgin
Left panel: “The Virgin of the star sailors”
Central “The triumphant Virgin adored by angels”
Right panel: “The Virgin comforting the afflicted”
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