For more than 200 years, Saint Louis has watched over this church

Sharing is caring!

If sometimes the destination of the sanctuaries changes, the works they contain remain. Like at Sainte-Croix-des-Armeniens, in Paris. This church has often changed its name throughout its history. But the same splendid painting of Saint Louis has been found there for more than 200 years.

It is common for the destination of the sanctuaries which cover the whole of France to change depending on history and circumstances. Holy Cross of the Armenians is the perfect example. Its foundation dates back to 1622. At that time, Capuchins from the convent on rue Saint-Honoré, famous for being volunteer firefighters during neighborhood fires, built a church in the Marais on the site of an old game of palm, under the name of the Immaculate Conception. The church was rebuilt at the beginning of the 18th century. But in 1790, the Capuchins were expelled. The church quickly became a parish under the name of Saint Francis of Assisi, returned to worship in 1803. The name Saint-Jean is associated with it on this date. 

Since then, this church was granted in 1971 to the Armenian Catholic Church of Paris, which until then only had a very small church. This Armenian church was elevated to the rank of eparchy in 1986, which corresponds to the diocese in the Armenian Catholic Church. The small church, which then acquired the status of a cathedral, was renamed Sainte-Croix-Saint-Jean and commonly bears the name Holy Cross of the Armenians.

Saint Louis forever

See how time does its work. But some things remain. Like works of art. In this church, from the beginning of the 19th century, it was chosen to complete the decor of the church with several large paintings (320 cm by 260 cm), to replace those moved during the Revolution. Among the themes chosen, Ary Scheffer, a young painter of English origin, received from the City of Paris the commission for a Saint Louis visiting the plague victims. His work was presented at the salon in 1819, and will be installed in its final place in 1822. The fashion is in the Middle Ages, the era rediscovers the crusades and chivalry.

“Saint Louis visiting the plague victims” by Ary Scheffer.

Public domain

Saint Louis is represented here in Tunis, during the Eighth Crusade. Are his tired look and the support he receives from his son a foreshadowing of the death he will suffer during this same crusade? Is he already affected by the evil that will overwhelm him? The holy king appears to invoke heaven at the sight of the sick who lie at his feet, while an old crusader with a white beard, companion of this adventure launched to save the holy places, clasps his arm. 

The painting was restored in 2019, at the same time as the church which has housed it for almost two centuries now. While it is most often the paintings which have eventful lives, from church to museum, from cellar to church, here it is the building itself which has seen the wind of history pass by. 

Sharing is caring!

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Catholic Letters with a gift today!

Photo of author


Catholic Letters
Official CatholicLetters Website Administrator.

Leave a Comment