Paris-4/20- 4/23/2016

La Madeleine-4/21/2016

The original church built on this site began in 1764 but after the death of the architect in 1777, his successor decided to raze the whole building down and came up with a whole new and completely different design. When the Revolution of 1789 broke out, the construction was halted pending decision on what to do with the church.

In 1806 Napoleón made the decision to erect a memorial, a "Temple de la Gloire de la Grande Armée" (Temple to the Glory of the Great Army), and again the church was demolish a second time. Napoleón assigned a new architect to build an edifice based on the design of an ancient temple and the inspiration came from  the "Maison Carrée" one of the best-preserved of all Roman temples located in Nîmes, France.  After the end of Napoleón's rein, the building was made into a church in honor of Sainte Mary Magdalene and finally in 1842 it was consecrated as a church.

La Madeleine is still a site for societies wedding and funerals, a flower market that is held around the church from Tuesday to Fridays.

La Madeleine is located at Place de la Madeleine, close to the Palais Garnier and the Place de la Concorde in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. To its south lies the Place de la Concorde, to the east is the Place Vendôme.


 La Madeleine is extremely striking from the outside due to its neoclassical façade. The building has 52 Corinthian columns standing 65 ft tall giving the building a majestic aspect.


Loan, Cang, and Chi Be climbing the stairs to get in La Madeleine.


The Madeleine is built in the Neo-Classical style and the fifty-two Corinthian columns are carried around the entire building. 

The pediment is adorned with a sculptured relief of the Last Judgment by Henry Lemaire (1833)


The main entrance


Before entering, you can admire the monumental bronze doors which bas reliefs representing the Ten Commandments by Henri de Triqueti  Its size is 354 feet long and 141 feet wide.


View of the altar from the entrance.

The interior of the church, which is very dimly lit, is made up of a single nave with three domes that are not visible from the outside. Above the High Alter stands a statue of Saint Mary Magdalene.


The church has a single nave with three domes, lavishly gilded in a decor inspired by Renaissance artists.


Absolutely stunning and majestic!


 Above the high altar, stands a statue by Charles Marochetti depicting Saint Mary Magdalene being lifted up by angels.


The half-dome above the altar (on the left) is covered with a fresco by Jules-Claude Ziegler, entitled The History of Christianity.

Close look at the fresco showing the key figures in the Christian religion with Napoleón occupying centre stage.   Napoleon is seated in the center of the painting, with his back against us, wearing a red coat with a white fur collar. Behind him is a black Eagle, the emblem of the first Empire.

This was a total shock for me to find a painting of Napoleón in here but it made sense since he was the one who contributed to building La Madeleine

View of the altar and the The History of Christianity fresco above.

Close look at the altar.

Above the altar a large fresco shows Jesus and the disciples.

Close look at the three domes.  Natural lights can get in the dome.


Statue of Saint Mary Magdalene


Statue of the wedding of the Virgin Mary and Joseph in front of a clergy located right at the entrance.


Baptism of Jesus by Saint John the Baptist by François Rude 1841

The work was commissioned by the French Ministry of the Interior in 1838 and the marble version was installed in 1841.


Close look at the sculpture


Marble Statue of Saint Vincent de Paul by Nicolas-Bernard Raggi


Statue of Saint Augustin by d'Antoine Etex (1808-1888)

An imposing Madonna and Child that combines two themes: the snake trampled by the Immaculate Conception and the destruction of idols and the infant Jesus standing on top of the ruins of a temple of Jupiter.


This area is specially on display for the Holy Year of Mercy (Misericorde-year of Mercy)

The pope to announced that this year will be a Holy Year of Mercy. We want to live in the light of the word of the Lord: “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful”

Statue of Joan of Arc


Because of the imposing structure, convenient central location and beautiful interior, the church is popular with fashionable Parisians for weddings and funerals. One of the most memorable funerals was Chopin’s in 1849 when Mozart’s Requiem was sung. Special permission had to be granted to include the female singers who remained hidden behind black velvet curtains. The funeral was delayed approximately two weeks while permission was obtained to allow women to participate in a manner that was deemed acceptable by the clergy.


Above the drum oak entrance stands the great organ of Cavaillé-Coll (1846) which makes Madeleine one of the great music venues in Paris. 

Close to the entrance/exit is a fountain with blessed water.


I passed by this church so many times over the years and never stepped inside.  The church really took me by surprise as I did not think it was this grandiose and magnificent inside.  So glad I was able to discover the interiors of La Madeleine.






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