PARIS CHURCH KINGS AND REPUBLICS : France’s rich history intertwines the realms of monarchy, religion, and republicanism, each leaving a profound impact on the cultural and political landscape of the nation. From the grandeur of Parisian churches to the turbulent periods of revolution and secularization, the relationship between the Church, kings, and the republic in France is a complex tapestry woven over centuries.

Tailor-Made Private Tour Guide

PricingNumber of peopleDurationCustom Features
From 300 EurosUp to 6 persons3 hoursWith hotel pick up
From 600 EurosUp to 6 persons6 hoursHotel pick up lunch break
From 170 EurosPer person2 hoursMuseum licensed guide
Upon quotationYour choiceYour choiceYour choice

Paris Church, Monarchy and Revolution

The Catholic Church and Monarchy of France

The history of France is deeply entwined with the Catholic Church, which wielded significant influence over both the spiritual and temporal affairs of the nation. For centuries, the Church provided legitimacy to the monarchy and played a pivotal role in shaping political decisions.

Despite the longstanding alliance between the Church and monarchy, the seeds of republicanism began to sprout during the Enlightenment period. Ideas of democracy, liberty, and secularism challenged the traditional authority structures, paving the way for revolutionary fervor.

The Revolution of 1789 and Republican ideas

The French Revolution ushered in an era of radical change, marked by the rejection of monarchy and the embrace of republican ideals. The revolutionaries sought to dismantle the authority of both the Church and the crown, viewing them as oppressive symbols of the ancien régime.

Parisian churches bore witness to the upheaval of the revolution, with many experiencing desecration and repurposing for secular ends. The revolutionary fervor unleashed a wave of iconoclasm, challenging the traditional role of religion in French society.

Separation of Church and State in 1905

In the aftermath of the revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte sought to reconcile with the Catholic Church through the Concordat of 1801. This agreement restored some of the Church’s privileges while reaffirming state control over religious affairs, laying the groundwork for a new era of church-state relations.

Subsequent governments pursued policies of secularization, aiming to diminish the influence of religion on public life and promote a more inclusive society. Laws such as the 1905 Law of Separation of Church and State formalized the secular nature of the French Republic.

Paris Church, Kings and Republics Facts

Saint Denis first bishop of Paris Pais church by PARIS BY EMY

  • Saint Denis, first Bishop of Paris church  in the I century

Saint Denis was the first bishop of Paris sent by the Pope Saint Clement, successor to the apostle Peter, who was in office from 92 to 101 to evangelize the Gaul (Kingdom of France). The story of his life and Passion (story of martyrdom) was written throughout the Middle Ages by many biographers, who gradually transformed history into a legend. When Denis arrived in Paris with two disciples, Rustique and Éleuthère, he preached to the inhabitants and converted them to Christianity.

At that time, Christians were persecuted by the Roman authorities and Paris, at that time named Lutèce, was under the Roman control. Arrested by the Romans, Denis and his companions declared themselves Christians and were beheaded. To prevent their remains from being thrown into the Seine, a still pagan Roman aristocrat, Catulla, decides to bury them in a field of her property. Later, Christians build a basilica in this place, the foundations of the current Cathedral Basilica of Saint-Denis.

Must See Paris Paris By Emy

  • Sainte Patronne of Paris church Sainte Geneviève in the V century

Geneviève (around 420 – 500) is a French saint. For more than 1,500 years, Paris has been under the protection of Saint Geneviève who, through her prayers and her courage, saved the capital from famine and destruction many times.

In 451, the Huns threatened Paris. Geneviève persuaded the panicked Parisians that the Barbarians would not attack the city and it was useless to flee. Indeed, Paris is spared. Then, the Franks came to besiege Paris. Geneviève negotiated with the Franks that the city should not be invaded. It also save Christianity while the Western Roman Empire was doomed to disappear and the barbarian people had embraced Arianism.

The siege by the Franks of Paris lasted 10 years, during which Geneviève forced the blockade on the Seine and supplied the Parisian people with wheat. After the victory of Clovis, the last representative of Roman power in Gaul, she allied with the new king and asked him to convert to Christianity. After his baptism, he reconciled the Franks and Gallo-Roman people.

Paris became the capital of his kingdom in 508. Parisians took the habit, whenever a flood, war or epidemic threatened them, to walk the shrine of the saint. A whole protocol governed this ceremony. Relics found in the crypt of the old Sainte-Geneviève church (nowadays the Panthéon) were placed in 1803 in the Paris Church Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church. These relics of the Saint are the last visible in Paris.

Baptism of Clovis Paris church by PARIS BY EMY

  • First Christian King Clovis Paris Church in the V century

The first King of France (and of Europe) being baptized is Clovis (465-511) in the cathedral of Reims, region of Champagne. Married to Clotilde a Catholic princess, he was baptized by the Bishop of Reims, future Saint Rémi, on Christmas Day between 496 and 498. Therefore, the King must reign in the name of God. He chose Paris as the capital of his French Kingdom. Clovis established the bases of the Monarchy. Clovis is the first Christian King in the world. It is later considered to be one of the most important events in the history of the French monarchy and even of the Catholic Church. This baptism in the Cathedral of Reims remained a significant event : from Henri I all the kings of France, except Louis VI, Henri IV and Louis XVIII, are thereafter crowned in the cathedral of Reims until the king Charles X, in 1825.

Guillaume le Conquérant Paris church by PARIS BY EMY

  • Kings and Paris Church in Middle Ages V to XV century

From 987 to 1328, the Kingdom of France was ruled by  the dynasty of the Capetian kings with the support of the Church. During 341 years of the Capetians reign with 14 Kings, the kingdom of France went through crusades, land and religious wars to assert their power and authority accross Europe and the East.

The East–West Schism of 1054, was the break of communion between what are now the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Schism was the culmination of theological and political differences between the Christian East and West.

William the Conqueror (Guillaume le Conquérant in French 1027-1087), was king of England from 1066 until his death in 1087 and duke of Normandy from 1035 until his death. After the death of King Edward, he took advantage of a succession crisis to seize the crown of England after his victory at the Hastings Battle in 1066. This conquest made him the one of the most powerful monarchs in Western Europe.

  • Inquisitio hereticae pravitatis in the Middle Ages

On April 20, 1233, Pope Gregory IX entrusted to an exceptional court called Inquisitio hereticae pravitatis the task of unmasking and condemning, heretics and insincere Catholics, by enforcing penalties for people who did not comply with the dogma. Many emperors and kings assimilated the rejection of the official faith to a crime of lese majesty. They did not hesitate to condemn the culprits to the confiscation of their goods, to the prison even to the death. An estimation of 3,000 death sentences according records were executed during its 5 centuries of existence through Europe.

Along with the inquisition, “witch hunting” was a phenomenon more present in Protestant countries such as Germany, England, Danemark, and less in Catholic countries such as Italy and Spain. The last women executed for witchcraft in Europe is Anna Göldin, sentenced in 1782 in the Protestant canton of Glarus in Switzerland. Historians estimate between 40,000 and 100,000 victims of witch hunting.

Declared a heretic, but still authorized to receive communion, Joan of Arc was delivered to the English, who put her to death on May 30, 1431 on the pyre raised by them on the Place du Vieux-Marché, in Rouen.

The Middle Ages is a period in the history of Europe, extending from the 5th century to the 15th century, which begins with the decline of the Western Roman Empire and ends with the Renaissance and the Great Discoveries. Discover the Museum of Cluny, our National Museum of the Middle Ages in the Latin Quarter, close to Saint Germain.

Saint Thomas d'Aquin PARIS BY EMY Paris Trip Planner with Private Tour

  • Saint Thomas d’Aquin XIII century

In 1245, Saint Thomas d’Aquin left Italy, clerical and aristocratic privileges to study & teach at the Sorbonne University. The Sainte Ursule de la Sorbonne chapel is decorated in its external front with four niches each comprising a statue. In the upper left, there is Saint Thomas Aquin Statue.

Founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon under King Saint Louis, The Sorbonne is an edifice of the former University of Paris. Today, it houses several high education and research institutions. During the 16th century, the Sorbonne became involved with the struggle between Catholics and Protestants. At that time, Kings, Popes would go to study at the University of Paris for its new ideas, visionary leadership and Excellence.

Saint Thomas became and is an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism. He is also known as the Doctor Angelicus and the Doctor Communis. Thomas Aquinas proposed, in the 13th century, a theological work on an attempt to synthesize reason and faith. He distinguishes truths accessible to a single reason, from those of faith, defined as an unconditional adherence to the Word of God. He qualifies philosophy as a servant of theology (philosophia ancilla theologiæ) in order to express how the two disciplines participate in a “subordinate” way in the search for the knowledge of the truth.

Saint Louis King of France

  • King Saint Louis Saint of the Paris church XIII century

Louis IX dit Saint Louis – King of France of the Capetian dynasty, reigned from 1226 to 1270. Saint Louis was the first to give protection to the Eastern Christians against the Ottoman empire. In 1248, he undertook the 7th crusade to save the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. During these sumptuous years for the country, he also made himself the protector of justice, of peace and of Christianity, while consolidating his royal power.

The main structure of the new Notre Dame cathedral was completed in 1245 under his reign. The relics of Christ crucifixion, the crown of thorns, a piece of the cross and a nail, are brought by Saint Louis from Jerusalem in 1239.

On August 19, 1239, the relics arrived in procession in Paris. The king abandoned his royal adornment, put on a simple tunic and, barefoot, wore the crown of thorns to Notre-Dame de Paris. To preserve these relics, he built a monumental reliquary, the Paris church Sainte-Chapelle.

The Sainte Chapelle is well-known for its stunning stained glass. Arranged across 15 windows, each 15 metres high (50 foot), the stained glass panes depict 1,113 scenes from the Old and New Testaments recounting the history of the world until the arrival of the relics in Paris. Saint Louis also had the Sorbonne built in 1257. Louis IX called Saint Louis was the only canonized king of France.

Saint Ignace de Loyola

  • Saint Ignace de Loyola vow in Paris church XVI century

Ignatius of Loyola (1491 – 1556) in Rome, was a Basque-Spanish priest and theologian, founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus. He assumed considerable tasks in the reaction of the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th and 17th centuries, facing the Protestant reform.

On August 15, 1534, at the end of the mass celebrated in Montmartre in the crypt of the Saint Denis martyrium, he pronounced with 6 other priests the 2 vows of poverty and chastity. It was the first act of an apostolic project giving birth of few years later the Society of Jesus, approved by Pope Paul III in 1540.

Pope Francis (François in French) is the first pope from the ranks of the Society of Jesus, the first non-European pope since the Syrian pope Gregory III in the 8th century. He is also the first pope to take the name of Francis, a name chosen in memory of Saint Francis of Assisi (1181 or 1182 -1226). The Catholic Paris church of Saint-François-d’Assise is located rue de Mouzaïa in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. Saint Francis of Assisi is regarded as the precursor of inter-religious dialogue.

Catherine de Medici

  • Religious wars, Paris church and the massacre de la Saint Barthélemy

In France, wars of Religion are called a series of 8 conflicts (civil wars, wars of religion and military operations) which ravaged the kingdom of France in the second half of the 16th century and where Catholics and Protestants (also called Huguenots ) opposed.

The spiritual Protestant was Jean Calvin, French theologian, pastor and reformer. The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre (French: Massacre de la Saint-Barthélemy), unleashed on the night of August 24, 1572 in Paris, is the culmination of the political and religious crisis which has opposed Catholic elites to Protestant elites for ten years.

Historians have long remained divided on the exact role of the crown. The historical tradition made King Charles IX 4th king of the Valois-Angoulême family and his mother, Catherine de Medici, the main culprits of the massacre. In Paris, the executions of thousands of Protestants by Catholics take place over several days in Paris. The signal given from the Paris church Saint Germain l’Auxerrois, a Paris church near by the Louvre.

Henri IV

  • The Edit de Nantes by King Henri IV

Another major event is the Edit de Nantes by King Henri IV. To access the throne, Henri de Navarre Protestant Chief at that time, had to convert to Catholicism. On July 25, 1593 Henri de Navarre abjured Protestantism for the last time in Basilica of Saint-Denis, near Paris. The basilica became a place of pilgrimage and the burial place of the French Kings with nearly every king from the 10th to the 18th centuries being buried there. This condition fulfilled, he ends up imposing himself as king of France under the name of Henri IV, installing a new dynasty, that of Bourbons. Thanks to the Edit de Nantes, Henri IV ended decades of civil war, pitting Catholics against Protestants. It is undoubtedly the most important act of his reign.

  • The Edit de Nantes revocation by King Louis XIV in the XVII century

Louis XIV, known as “Louis the Great” or “the Sun King”, (1638-1715) is a king of France. His reign of 72 years is one of the longest in the history of Europe and the longest in the history of France. From 1682, Louis XIV ruled his kingdom from the vast Palace of Versailles.

On  October 18, 1685, Louis XIV, the Sun King, the 44th king of Navarre and the third king of France from the Bourbon dynasty, signs the Edict of Fontainebleau. This act, which revokes the Edict of Nantes signed on April 13, 1598 by Henri IV, his grandfather, prohibits the existence of the Protestant cult in France. The Sun King, eager for absolutism and centralization, tried to stifle the practice of Protestant worship. After “Moderate Politics”, it will authorize persecution, causing a demographic hemorrhage, disastrous for the country’s economy and which will weaken the kingdom.

In Versailles, the Royal Chapel was completed at the end of the reign of Louis XIV in 1710. Dedicated to Saint Louis, patron saint of the King, the royal Chapel echoes the Sainte-Chapelle Paris church built under Saint Louis king.

French revolution timeline by PARIS BY EMY

  • The French Revolution of 1789 and Paris Church

The French Revolution from 1789 caused a massive shift of power from the Roman Catholic Church to the State. Under the monarchy, the Church had been the largest single landowner in the country. In addition, the Church was exempt from paying taxes to the government, while it levied a tax often collected in the form of crops on the people.

Louis XVI was sent to the guillotine on January 21, 1793. Nine months later, Marie Antoinette was also convicted of treason and beheaded on October 16.

The French Revolution brought the Republic model, in which power is exercised by elected persons. Slavery by royalty and clergy on people (named the serf) and their privileges have been dismantled. The prohibition of trafficking only intervened in 1815. Slavery was definitively abolished in Paris, in the Council of Government, by the decree of Victor Schœlcher who decided the abolition of slavery in France and in its colonies, on April 27, 1848. It also decriminalized homosexual relations as early as 1791. Moreover, France was the first to grant full equal rights to Jews through the vote of the Constituent Assembly in 1791 at the start of the French Revolution.

Paris Church and the guillotine by PARIS BY EMY

  • The Terror and Paris Church

During the Revolution’s Reign of Terror, the project of de-Christianisation started, including the imprisonment and massacre of priests, religious, royalists or not royalists and destruction of churches and religious images throughout France.

The Picpus cemetery is one of 2 private cemeteries of Paris, with graves from the French Aristocraty. It was dug in June 1794 in the garden convent. In 6 weeks, the guillotine killed more than 1,306 people. Overall, several tens of thousands are guillotined, shot or drowned.

Jacques-Louis David - The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries - PARIS BY EMY private tour

  • Freedom of religion by Napoléon in 1802

The Terror ended on 9 thermidor year II (July 27, 1794) with the fall of Robespierre. Then, the coup d’état (putsch) of 18 Brumaire (on November 9, 1799) took place with the following operations : Napoléon Bonaparte will be commander in Chief of the Army in Paris and in the assemblies. Napoleon was crowned Emperor, first Emperor of France, on December 2, 1804 in Notre Dame Cathedral. Napoléon ended the de-Christianisation. He established the rules for a relationship between the Catholic Church and the French State. In 1802, with the Concordat signed with Pope Pius VII, Napoléon Bonaparte restored freedom of worship. He saw that religion was necessary for the balance of people. Napoléon Bonaparte declared on August 16, 1800:

“My policy is to govern men. This is, I believe, the way to recognize the sovereignty of the people. It was by making myself Catholic that I won the war in Vendée, by making myself Muslim that I established myself in Egypt, by making myself ultramontane that I won minds in Italy. If I ruled a Jewish people, I would restore the Temple of Solomon. “

La Madeleine Paris church, dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene is a Roman Catholic church in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. The Madeleine Church was supposed to be a temple to the glory of Napoléons army. However, he gave it back to the glory of God in 1813.

Bastille unusual things to do in Paris PARIS BY EMY

  • The Republic and the Church

The first Republic in 1792

The République in France is the form of government in force for the first time in 1792 right after Bastille Day. The French Revolution of 1789 then interrupted from 1804 to 1848 with Napoléon Bonaparte becoming Emperor and the coming back of the constitutional monarchy.

The Second Republic interrupted from 1852 to 1870 with Napoléon III

Second republic then interrupted from 1852 to 1870 with Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, Napoléon III (nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte) second empire. Not respecting his promises to Christians, in 1860, the sultan exercised bloody repression against the Lebanese Maronites, Eastern Christians. For Napoléon III, it was a provocation. An expeditionary force embarked for the current country Lebanon. A year later in 1861, a special status is obtained from Istanbul, with the designation of a Christian governor.

The Communard movement in 1870

The Commune of Paris finds its source in a republican impulse referring to the First Republic as well as the first months of the Second Republic. One of Napoleon III’s favorite high-ranking officials, Baron Haussmann, notes that more than half of Parisians live in “poverty bordering on indigence”, even though they work 11 hours a day. In July 1870, the Second Empire began an ill-prepared war against Prussia, which quickly led to defeat. On September 4, 1870, following a day of riots in Paris, the Empire was overthrown.

The communard movement was born following an uprising of Parisians on March 18, 1871. Dominated by the extreme left, several groups are represented: Jacobins, Marxists, independent Blanquists and anarchists.

The Communards want a federalist, democratic and social republic with absolute autonomy for the communes of France. They also wanted a separation of Church and State. However, from Versailles, the propaganda of Adolphe Thiers provoked the rejection of the movement in the countryside.

In the final battle of Bloody Week on May 28, 1871, hundreds of Communards were killed in action. At the same time, the Paris Commune rose up, provoked bloody religious persecution. They used the clergy as bargaining chips. Around 20,000 communards were summarily executed by the Versaillese. Out of 36,000 communards arrested, 4,500 were imprisoned, 7,500 were deported (mainly to New Caledonia) and 10,000 convictions were pronounced, including 93 to capital punishment, 23 of which were carried out.

The Third and the Fourth Republic interrupted from 1940 to 1944

The law concerning the separation of the Church and the State is adopted on December 9, 1905. Indeed, it was on the initiative of the republican-socialist deputy Aristide Briand, who took sides in favor of a laicism.

Finally, the Third republic is interrupted from 1940 to 1944 with the system of Vichy government under the nazis, followed by The Fourth Republic.

The Fifth Republic since October 4, 1958

The Fifth Republic is in force since October 4, 1958 by Charles de Gaulle, elected its first president. Paris church reflects our history and culture. Paris church tells a story of faith, artistry. Moreover, Parisian churches tell the evolution of architectural styles. If you seek spiritual solace, these churches offer a unique perspective on the city’s cultural tapestry.

Notre Dame de Paris, France, Trip to Paris by PARIS BY EMY

Paris Church: Iconic Landmarks of Faith

No matter what is your religion, you can enter pour Paris Churches. It does not matter if you are not a believer. You are allow to come and see those holy places.

Obviously, you do not visit a church like you visit a museum. Be calm and quiet, do not take pictures with a flash, do not touch paintings and sculptures.

Please, do not disturb mass or people in prayers. Entrance is free of charge but you are welcome to make a donation and light a candle.

1. The Notre-Dame Cathedral: A Gothic Marvel

The Notre-Dame Cathedral, with its awe-inspiring Gothic architecture, stands as one of the most iconic landmarks in Paris. This masterpiece took nearly two centuries to complete. It holds intricate stone carvings, towering spires, and rose windows. Visitors can marvel at its interior, ascend to the top for a panoramic view of the city.

Sacred Heart Basilica Montmartre PARIS BY EMY Paris Trip Planner

2. The Sacred Heart Basilica of Paris

Perched atop the picturesque Montmartre hill, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica offers a stunning panorama of Paris. This white-domed basilica, constructed in the late 19th century, is a symbol of hope and spiritual devotion. Inside, visitors can admire its grandeur and experience a sense of tranquility in its serene ambiance. A climb up its dome rewards visitors with a breathtaking view of the city’s skyline.

La Sainte Chapelle Private Tour Guide Paris - PARIS BY EMY - Paris Trip Planner

3. Sainte-Chapelle: A Stained Glass Masterpiece

Hidden within the Palais de la Cité, the Sainte-Chapelle boasts extraordinary stained glass windows. Built in the 13th century, King Louis IX commissioned it to house relics from the Passion. Go into a world of vibrant colors as sunlight filters through the stained glass, depicting biblical stories.

Saint Sulpice - Paris Travel Warnings by PARIS BY EMY

4. Saint-Sulpice: A Grand Paris church

Saint-Sulpice, a monumental church located in the heart of Paris, has an impressive façade and magnificent organ. This 17th-century church offers a serene escape from the bustling city, inviting visitors to admire its artistic treasures. As you wander through its chapels, you can appreciate the skill and dedication that went into creating this masterpiece. Delacroix is one of them.

La Madeleine church PARIS BY EMY

5. The Architectural Madeleine Paris church

The Madeleine Church, resembling a Greek temple, is a striking sight in the heart of Paris. Initially designed as a temple to honor Napoleon’s army, it became a Catholic church. Its grand columns, portico, and interior make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a moment of reflection.

Eglise de la Sainte Trinity Paris church by PARIS BY EMY

6. Sainte-Trinité: A Symbol of Harmony

Église de la Sainte-Trinité, nestled in the bustling 9th arrondissement, is a testament to architectural harmony. This neoclassical church, designed by Théodore Ballu, combines elements of Greek and Roman architecture with a touch of French influence. Its stunning rose window, dome, and decorations make it a captivating place of worship among different architectural styles.

Saint Denis Basilica planning a trip to Paris by PARIS BY EMY

7. Basilica of Saint-Denis: The Gothic Art

Located just outside the city limits, the Basilica of Saint-Denis is the birthplace of Gothic art. This medieval masterpiece, the final resting place of French monarchs, showcases the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. Its intricate stained glass windows, magnificent tombs, and rich historical significance make it a fascinating destination for architecture aficionados.

Saint Eustache church PARIS BY EMY

8. Saint-Eustache Paris Church

Saint-Eustache Church, situated in the vibrant Les Halles district, is a harmonious blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles. Its impressive façade, towering nave, and grand organ contribute to its architectural allure. The church’s musical heritage is noteworthy, as it hosts regular concerts, enchanting visitors with the power of music.

Saint Germain Church PARIS BY EMY Paris Trip Planner with Private Tour

9. Saint-Germain-des-Prés: A Historic Haven

Saint-Germain-des-Prés, located in the charming Left Bank neighborhood, is one of the oldest churches in Paris. Its Romanesque architecture and rich history make it a must-visit for those seeking a tranquil retreat. Explore its medieval chapels, stroll through its charming surroundings, and feel the centuries of history come alive.

Saint Etienne du Mont Paris church by Emy

10. Saint-Etienne-du-Mont Paris church

Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, located near the Panthéon, is a captivating blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles. It has a stunning rood screen, and the final resting place of Blaise Pascal. Explore its intricacies, admire its artistic details, and delve into the intersection of faith and knowledge.

Paris, the enchanting capital of France, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and architectural marvels. The churches of Paris stand as timeless testaments to the city’s deep-rooted religious significance and historical significance. Paris is a Catholic stronghold. In addition, you have more than a hundred houses of worship to discover in every district of Paris. Paris church, experience the Holy humanity in the City of Lights, its history as well.

Contact for free quotation
Get in touch for a quotation
Email Tel/WhatsApp +33767389625
Services you are interested in
First and Last name
First and Last name
Themes you are interested in

Thank you for your request. By sending your email and in accordance with Article 5 of the GDPR, you expressly consent to the use of your personal data for the purpose of being contacted for a Paris trip project. For more information, see the privacy policy.