Sainte Geneviève, patroness of Paris

Pantheon St Genevieve watching over ParisElena at Tea at Trianon has a post on Sainte Geneviève, whose feast we celebrate today. To illustrate this entry, I chose a painting by Puvis de Chavannes at the Panthéon, probably the most unfairly ignored landmark in Paris (by locals and tourists alike, I must say.)

Originally intended by Louis XV as a church dedicated to Sainte Geneviève, its construction was plagued by all kinds of difficulties, to the point that, decades later, during the Revolution, it was not yet completed or dedicated as a Church. It became, and remains to this day, a burial place for persons the Nation wished to honor. Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Zola, Braille, Pierre and Marie Curie are buried there.

The  Panthéon was not dedicated as a Church until 1822, under the Restoration of the Bourbons. Later it lost again its religious purpose, but was adorned at the end of the 19th century by a remarkable series of paintings by Puvis de Chavannes, honoring the life of Paris’s patroness. This particular painting represents her watching over the sleeping city.

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12 Comments to “Sainte Geneviève, patroness of Paris”

  1. Dennis Schmidt says:

    Great Painting. Does anyone know who painted it??


  2. al-Ma'din says:

    Thanks for this. It really helped me out!

  3. Catherine Delors says:

    Quite true, Elisa, Sainte Genevieve’s shrine is nearby, at St. Etienne du Mont. I was always fortunate never to find the Church closed, though.

    Genevieve’s friends and allies, Clovis and Clothilde, are also buried in the same district (called Montagne Sainte Genevieve) in what is now the Lycee Henri IV. The heart of Paris indeed.

  4. Elisa says:

    While on summer study aboard in July 2004, I visited St. Etienne du Mont Church and prayed by Ste. Genevieve’s tomb. Her shrine is towards the front of the church, just off to the right side.
    Since the Pantheon dominates the square, it can be easy to overlook the church which is behind it.
    St. Etienne du Mont is closed one day a week so check the schedule on the door before entry.

  5. Catherine Delors says:

    It sounds like a wonderful project, Carlyn! I would love to hear more about it. And yes, Sainte Genevieve must be included. She was one of the major religious, moral and political figures of her time.

  6. C Beccia says:

    oh I can’t wait to hear about Sainte Geneviève. I am acturally working on a book proposal for an illustrated book of saints and I totally forgot about Sainte Genevieve. thanks!

  7. Catherine Delors says:

    Thank you! I have to go in search of it. Fortunately it is very close to the Pantheon.

  8. melinda says:

    There is a lovely statue of her in the Luxemburg gardens.

  9. Catherine Delors says:

    Penny – Yes, she is overlooking the river, and the roofs and towers are realistic for 5th century Paris. What I love in this painting is the feeling of heavenly peace.

    Elena – Thanks! and also thank you for prompting me to post about Genevieve, something that had been at the back of my mind for a long time. She was such an amazing person, and such an important historical character in very troubled times. No wonder her memory has been revered by Parisians.

  10. Thank you for the link and for posting one of the remarkable paintings by Puvis de Chavannes. Glad to have you back on line!

  11. Penny Klein says:

    Thanks for the lovely painting. is she overlooking the river? is it realistic or idealized?

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