In the shadows of the world famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica, is Montmartre’s second most famous church, Église Saint-Pierre. Unknown to most who pass it, the church is one of the oldest in Paris, and has a storied history.
A Testament to Parisian History
It’s not known exactly when the L’église Saint-Pierre de Montmartre was first constructed, however, its earliest appearance in records is found in 1069. Anonymous sources have speculated that before becoming a church it was originally a mausoleum for the martyred Saint-Denis. These claims would date the origins of the basilica to at least 850.
It is known that it was owned by the comte de Melun, who exchanged it with Louis VI for a church on Ile de la Cité in 1133. Louis then used the church to form part of the Montmartre Abbey, which was reconsecrated by Pope Eugene III in 1147.
Although little is known of the Abbey in the Middle Ages, it is said that Thomas Beckett spent time there during his exile from France between 1164 and 1170. Likewise, Jeanne d’Arc was there during the Siege of Paris in 1429. The church suffered much damage during the Hundred Years War and was reconstructed in 1463. It was further expanded in 1686 and given a new facade in 1765.
However, the French Revolution in 1792 would introduced a ban on worship. The Abbey, like many other places of worship, was abounded. Desecrated and looted, the church became a Temple of Reason and its cemetery were destroyed. It wouldn’t be until 1803, two years after the Condorcet, that the church was responded for worship.
The church’s deplorable state worsened during the invasion of Paris by Russian troops. Restoration campaigns to save it from 1838-1845 and again in 1874 did little to prevent its degradation. After a wall collapsed in 1896, it appeared to be the end of the storied church; however, a concerted effort to save it from demolition resulted in its entire restructuring from 1900-05.
Visiting the Church
With the addition of a beautiful selection of stained glass windows after the Second World War, the church looks the same as it did in 1905. Despite the centuries of ruin and decay, today the Church of Saint-Pierre is an impressive and enduring testament to Paris’ past.
Open for services daily and guided visits, the church is a 10 minute walk for our guests. Book with us now and discover Montmartre on your doorstep!