Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Église Saint-Merry (Saint-Merri), Paris

Église Saint-Merry (St. Merry's Church) is named after Medericus (Merry).  Born in Autun, he joined the city's Abbey of St. Martin when still 13.  He would eventually became the Abbey's Abbot.  He died in Paris in the year 700 while on a pilgrimage.  Over a century later, people on the right bank proclaimed Merry as their patron Saint while seeking aid during (what proved to be) the final Norman siege in 844.  Once canonized, his feast day was August 29th.

The Église Saint-Merry is on the rue Saint Martin (a former Roman north-south road) and rue Saint-Honoré (the east-west road).  The original 13th-century church was replaced by the present building which was erected 1500-1550 in the flamboyant Gothic style. Its choir is the same length as its nave (recalling Notre Dame, across the river). 

We begin in the Gothic nave, looking toward the altar.  I cannot explain the plastic (protection? art?)  The brightly lit guilded sun above the alter was by Slodtz (1785), recalling Jesus saying "I am the light of the world".  Having spot lights on it is far more dramatic that it would have been unless struck by the sun.

The marble was added in the 1700's, a style which swept through many churches in France.

Looking from the choir stalls, past the transept, to the open back doors.  This is the only church in Paris, to my knowledge, which keeps its doors wide open--a welcoming gesture which invites tourists to pause, enjoy, and meditate.

There are numerous side chapels, many with large important paintings, but in the available lighting it was difficult to photograph without a tripod and ladder.

There was an invitation to make a cutting from a vine and place the cutting in a glass to have it take root.  They hoped to fill one of the chapels with these cuttings.