Eglise St. Germain l’Auxerrois, Paris.

This church commonly known as Auxerrois is one of the beautiful buildings which I kept seeing in passing, or glimpsing from a bus window, or as I discovered I even mixed its tower with that of St. Jacques. So I looked up the address, 2 Place du Louvre, checked the location on the map and took bus #21 to Rivoli-Louvre bus stop. Then I looked across the street and there it was, opposite the Louvre columned facade. The church was founded probably in the seventh century, then it was enlarged, rebuilt, renovated until it was left in peace sometime during the 1400s. Thus it came about that it combines various styles and demonstrates a harmonious conglomeration of the Roman, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Inside, there are so many amazing wonderful magnificent statues, murals paintings, chapels, vaulted ceilings, pews, stained glass windows and sacred water bowls with cute little angels guarding them that it is impossible to enumerate them all. Or rather it is, if you are writing a new Wikipedia entry. I took pictures of the Flemish altar piece, one of the most beautiful creations I have ever seen in a church, and of the traditional skillfully painted Rose window above an arched ceiling.

Entrance is free; if you wish you can leave 20 cents for an information leaflet. The church is generally open every day of the week 9 am – 7 pm. Its tall tower still houses the bell called Marie which tolled in August 1572, when thousands of Protestants who assembled in Paris for the royal wedding were mercilessly killed on St. Bartholomew’s night. Thankfully such atrocities are now in the distant past. It is believed that the young King Henri IV was saved by his new catholic bride. Later he officially converted to Catholicism; that is why the famous phrase, “Paris is worth the Messe (the catholic service)” is attributed to him. If we can believe Alexander Dumas, though Henri IV was a catholic officially, unofficially he stayed loyal to his Huguenot friends. Neither was he much trusted at court, so that when his mother-in-law Catherine de Medici smiled at him one morning, he smiled back – and, as the great story-teller put it, ate nothing but eggs which he himself picked from under a hen, and drank only water from the Seine River! Even if the whole episode is due to the writer’s imagination, it is a good anecdote which shows the customs of the time well.

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