Our neighborhood church during our stay in Paris was Saint-Sulpice, the second largest church in the city (just slightly smaller than Notre Dame), and just four blocks down Rue Saint-Sulpice from our apartment on Rue de Condé. The church is famous for its great organ (one of the largest in the world), for its murals by Eugene Delacroix, and for its role in the popular novel The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.
We visited the church three times during our vacation. The first time was on our initial walk around the neighborhood on our first full day in Paris. We returned a week later with our Irish cousins to explore the obelisk and gnomon featured in The Da Vinci Code. And just a few days before our flight home we attended Sunday Mass and listened to the great organ.
A half-dozen architects had their hands in the design of the church which took more than a hundred years to complete. Giovanni Servandoni designed the west facade in 1732 based on Christopher Wren’s St Paul’s cathedral in London. But Servandoni died in 1766 and his successors rebuilt the north tower so that the two steeples are now quite unsymmetrical. Then lightning struck Servandoni’s pediment in 1770 and it was replaced by a simple balustrade.
Most of the church’s baroque interior was designed by Charles de Wailly in 1774. Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, best known for the name given to the red-light district in Paris near Sacre Coeur, created the statue of Mary in the Lady Chapel. The southwest corner chapel contains two murals by Delacroix, painted in the latter stages of his life (1855-61).
In my next posting we will analyze Dan Brown’s Rose Line inside Saint-Sulpice in his The Da Vinci Code.