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Basillica del Sacré-Cœur


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Basillica del Sacré-Cœur

Translated by Kate Norman — 8 months ago

Original text by Patricia Saiz Díaz

Basillica del Sacré-Cœur

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The Basillica del Sacré-Cœur is a Roman-Catholic Parisian Church and a tourist hub that is located on the crown of the Montmartre Hill, the highest point in Paris.

Basillica del Sacré-Cœur

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The 19th century church was designed by the architect Paul Abadie (who died in 1884 when only the foundations of the Sacré-Cœur had been built) in the Romano-Byzantine architectural style. The first stone was placed in 1875 and it was built with the direct participation of the French Third Republic in order to commemorate the foundation of the New French State whose laws were proclaimed as constitutional from this year onwards. It is also thought of as a public monument to commemorate the memory of the many French citizens that lost their lives during the Franco-Prussian war and its consequences, including the Commune Uprising in 1871. However, they did not finish until 1914 and then did not open officially until the end of the First World War in 1919 which, ironically, was seen by many French people as revenge for France's loss in the Franco-Prussian war.

Basillica del Sacré-Cœur

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This place is traditionally associated with the decapitation of the Patron Saint of the city, Saint Denis, in the 3rd century. The legend tells us that on being decapitated, the bishop Denis picked up his severed head and he carried it to the top of the hill. More recently, during the Commune Uprising of 1871, hundreds of Paris Commune supporters burned down the chalk mines in the Monmartre Hill and they were incarcerated for life by Government troops when they were found blowing up the exits.

The Basillica del Sacré-Cœur was paid for by national subscription. Its iconography is clearly Nationalist: the portico porch with three arches is topped with two bronze-coated statues of National Saints of France: Joan of Arc and the King San Luis IX, designed by Hippolyte Lefebvre. Even the great bell, the Savoyarde, has a nationalist program, Savoy having joined France as recently as 1860. Moulded in Annecy in 1895, it is one of the heaviest bells in the world, at 19 tonnes.

Basillica del Sacré-Cœur

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The Sacré-Cœur was constructed by rock from the region of Chateau-Landon. It is made from a frost-resistant rock that constantly opposes the limestone, so that it whitens with the age, with a chalky whiteness.

Ever since 1885, when they partially built the Sacré-Cœur, the Holy Sacrament (a consecrated host that the Catholics think has been transformed into the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ during mass) has always been in the exhibition, kept safe on the higher altar. The perpetual adoration of the Holy Sacrament has continued inside the Basillica without interruption since then. The bronze altar was sourced from the Cluny Abbey in Borgoña.

The mosaic of Christ in majesty in the apse, designed by Luc-Olivier Merson (1922) is one of the largest in the world. Christ is adorned with images of the Virgin María, Joan of Arc and the Arch Angel San Miguel.

The doctrine of the Sacré-Cœur was proclaimed by Father Pío IX in 1856, to the urgent pleas of French bishops.

Basillica del Sacré-Cœur

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The Sacré-Cœur has a lot in common, including historically and architecturally, with the Basillica Nôtre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon. The Sacré-Cœur was inspired by St-Front in Périgueux (Dordoña), a multi-arched Roman-style church that had recently been restored.

Basillica del Sacré-Cœur

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The main portal has large bronze doors with foliage designs. In the interior it is a little dark and dingy, except for the golden mosaics that shines from the apse. The floor is a Greek cross with equal arms, with a large, 83m high dome above it. In the enormous dome, there are 11 high arches that help with the barrel-vaulted ceiling.

Basillica del Sacré-Cœur

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A climb to the top of the turret will offer you an excellent view of Paris - 271 metres above Monmartre, it is the second highest point in Paris after the Eiffel Tower. The walk through the inside of the turret is worth the ascent. The turret is supported by 80 columns, each one honouring a different capital city around the world.

The crypt has statues of Saints and a relic that some thing is the true Sacred Heart (Sacré-Cœur) of Christ.

Behind the Sacré-Cœur, there is a meditative garden and a fountain.

Basillica del Sacré-Cœur

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