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MEMORIALS TO THE DEAD OF WORLD WAR I
IN PARISH CHURCHES IN PARIS

1st Arrondissement: St. Eustache
2nd Arrondissement: Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle
3rd Arrondissement: St. Denys du Sacrement · St. Leu-St. Giles
4th Arrondissement: St. Gervais-St. Protais · Notre-Dame-des-blancs-manteaux · St. Paul-St. Louis
5th Arrondissement: Notre Dame · Panthèon · St. Sévèrin
6th Arrondissement: St. Sulpice
9th Arrondissement: La Trinité
10th Arrondissement: St. Martin-des-champs · St. Vincent de Paul
12th Arrondissement: St. Antoine-des-Quinze-Vingts
18th Arrondissement: St.-Bernard-de-la-Chapelle · Basilique-Ste.-Jeanne-d'Arc · Notre-Dame-de-Clignancourt · St. Pierre de Montmartre
19th Arrondissement: St. Jacques-St. Christophe

Photographed by AJF March 2005 and May 2007


1st Arrondissement

St. Eustache (1532-1637, built on the site of a 12th-century chapel)

This dignified and very large memorial, as you can see in the lower-left corner of the panel below, is starting to fall apart.


"To the officers, under-officers, and soldiers of the parish, glorious deaths of the Great War 1914-1918"


2nd Arrondissement

Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle

Crosses, palms, and flags above two marble tablets "A ses enfants morts pour la Patrie."


3rd Arrondissement

St. Denys du Sacrement

The memorial in St. Denys du Sacrement helpfully and unusually names the parish church as well as the dead. With its gold leaf border and the medals hanging from the crossed central palms, this is a more ornate and elegant memorial than most. The memorial hangs on the side wall of a small chapel to the right as you exit the church.

St. Leu-St. Giles

Very modest tablets, each bearing a flourished palm, greatly assisted in their memorial statement by the Pietà nearby.

(Friday, May 30, 2007)

4th Arrondissement

St. Gervais-St. Protais (1494-1540, built on the site of a 6th-century chapel, with a classical façade, 1616-21)

The center of this memorial commemorates the victims of the bombing of the Church on Good Friday, March 29, 1918.

Plaques to the left and right name the dead soldiers from the parish. This is an unusually good memorial in every sense. On the ideological side, it offers strong testimony to the twinned fates of civilians and soldiers during the war; on the aesthetic side, the memorial's stonework is beautifully fit into the wood panels that adorn the chapel walls. The inscriptions are relevant, too. Here are transcriptions (the panels are below):

On the left:
Consurgam cum sedero in tenebris: Dominus lux mea est. Iram domini portabo, quoniam peccavi ei, donec causam meam iudicet et faciat iudicium meum:
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord is my light. The wrath of the Lord I will endure because I have sinned against him, until he takes up my cause and establishes my right. (Micah 7:8-9)
On the right, there are two:
Sancta ergo et sa lubris est cogitatio pro defunctis exorare, ut a peccatis sovantur:
Therefore he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin. (2 Macc 12:46);
and
Clamavi ad te domine dixi tu es spes mea, protio mea in terra viventium:
I cry to you, O Lord; I say, "You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living." (Psalm 141:6)


Tablets on the two sides do not match; those on the right were added later, it would seem--they are far less finished, and the third tablet on the left side is not completely full.


NOTRE-DAME-DES-BLANC-MANTEAUX

The two memorial tables include decorations awarded to some of those who died. The framed sheet in the center names priest from the Archdiocese of Paris who died in the war. (The church opens for viewing at 4.30.)



ST-PAUL ST-LOUIS The conventional arrangement, tablets on either side of an exit door, bearing crosses, however, rather than palms.



5th Arrondissement

NOTRE DAME

A memorial to the one million British dead in the war, noting that they remain to this day buried in France


PANTHÈON

A very defeated sort of memorial for this most august building, it seems, with peasant families at gravesites seen on either side of the memorial, the focus of which is a soldier who lies with his face turned from the viewer (his boot seen protruding at the extreme right in the view below, right). Above him: dead soldiers, faces concealed. It's appropriate, though, to a memorial to the unknown heroes and "ignored martyrs" of the war (the difficult-to-read inscription in letteres set against the red background).


A memorial to writers to died in the war:
The black arrows mark the name of Eugene Lamercier, whose letter supplies the first of the three texts of Circles of Grief, (my 2005 song cycle, with music by Pierre Thilloy. The palm over the archway is the most common icon found on the parish church memorials, giving them an important link to the iconography of state memorials like this one.


ST. SÉVERIN (rebuilt 1495; the bell (1412) is the oldest in Paris); Flamboyant Gothic

The greatest losses in this parish were in the first two years of the war, with the last three years registering far fewer deaths.


6th Arrondissement

St. Sulpice (13thth-century, many phases of rebuilding)


A large and particularly effective memorial on a late November afternoon.


9th Arrondissement

LA TRINITÉ

The classic church memorial configuration: two tablets of names framing a doorway; it's worth noting that names are often added at the end, indicating that records were incomplete or incorrect when the memorial was designed, as is the case here. When reading these memorials, it is also important to see how the disposition of the tablets in reference to church architecture and other installations can affect perceptions of the memorial. In this case, the proximity of the memorial to the altar at the right is significant.

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As of sometimes the case, this church contains more than one memorial to more than one war. The memorial below, left, is dedicated to the Savoyards (the flag is that of Savoy; France annexed Savoy in 1860; the military neutrality of the region was unofficially ended by World War I). The memorial on the right indicates that La Trinité served as a hospital in the war of 1870-71.

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10th Arrondissement

ST. MARTIN-DU-CHAMPS


The memorial is just inside the front door to the right as you enter, and because it faces the side entrance doorway and is not turned toward the front of the church, it is easy to miss--easier to miss than most, that is. All the same, it is a memorial of uncommon interest.

1. Comprehensive view

There are five sections to the memorial: a frame of palms on either side that encompasses a large painting (not visible here; see below), a smaller painting, a table of names, and two tablets giving details about the creatio nof the memorial.

2. Lower tablets

Two tables below are unusually informative about the memorial. The first says that the memorial expresses gratitude for the armistice signed on Monday, Nov. 11, 1918, the feast day of St. Martin. The one below says that the memorial was paid for by the faithful of the parish and by the pastor, Abbé Léonetti, and inaugurated on Feb. 5, 1919. This memorial was created swiftly and a fine one it is. Unfortunately it is not displayed to advantage in the church.

3. Upper painting

The upper painting is part of the frame. It illustrates a brilliantly good succession of chivalric and sacred images: bishop's mitre and knight's helmet, then crozier and sword crossed, then a shield in front of the cross, and the motto, "O you who suffer and who are troubled, and I will comfort you."

4. Lower painting

The second painting and the table of names are set in a wide wooden frame. The painting shows an angel with the palm of victory at Christ's right and soldiers ascending on his left. In the center of the painting a soldier is draped in the flag; at the left we see a small, destroyed church and near it a small white cross (a battlefield cemetery); at the right, smoke on the battlefield. The table of names was wisely written on paper; you can see elsewhere that such lists had to be emended rather awkwardly. A notice in brass at the bottom instructs viewers to consult the "Livre d'Or" in the sacristy.

ST. VINCENT DE PAUL

An impressive memorial but a bit hard to find, since it's located near the sacristy and seems off-limits to visitors (but isn't).

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12th Arrondissement

ST. ANTOINE-DES-QUINZE-VINGTS

The tablets have been moved from their original position and put up high over a display and widely separated. As a result they are more visible in their absence, in a way, than in their presence. You can see the marks on either side of the doorway where they used to be mounted.


18th Arrondissement

St.-Bernard-de-la-Chapelle

I originally tried to see St. Bernard on Tuesday, May 29, 2007, but it only opens in the afternoon, from 2.30-7:00. Luckily there was someone from the parish on hand, and she confirmed that I had suspected after a quick tour of the church, which is that the World War I memorial is located in a chapel that is now used as a store room; only a few names and dates are visible. Since this is one of the largest memorials I've seen, the desecration is especially painful and disappointing. It appears that the entire chapel was at one time given over to the memorial, which seems to flank all three walls.

The quotation around the wall is probably Matthew 5:11. "Beati qui persecutionem patiuntur propter iustitiam quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum." (Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.) The italicized Latin would, I think, just fit in the space in the 4th of these images. Below is the view you have from the aisles of the church. I got these pictures by holding the camera inside the bars and snapping away as my guide looked on.


Basilique Ste.-Jeanne-d'Arc
Paroisse St. Denys de la Chapelle

The small memorial is in the entry way to the basilica and seems to be associated with a fraternity, not with a parish community. It is a short list of the dead; a second tablet in a similar style commemorates the dead of World War II.

The site has important connections with St. Joan. According to two plaques affixed to the exterior of the church, she kept a night watch at this place, which was then outside the walls of Paris, before being carried through the city on Sept. 7, 1429. Then, very early in World War I--September 13, 1914 (one week short of 485 years later), someone made a solemn vow to build a church in her honor on the site "pour le salut de la patrie," for the salvation of the country.

 

Notre-Dame-de-Clignancourt

Notre-Dame-de-Clignancourt is due north of Sacre Coeur and St. Pierre, a large church situated directly across from the Marie of the 18th Arr. This is a large memorial and might serve as the official ecclesiastical memorial of the 18th. (Seen Wednesday, May 30, 2007.)

The bas-relief in the center of the memorial doesn't seem to be related to the panels in any material or aesthetic way, but this image of the Resurrection can't be juxtaposed to the names of all these dead men by accident.

St. Pierre de Montmartre (dedicated in 1147; one of the oldest churches in Paris)

The Church of St. Peter is next to Sacre Coeur and is easy to overlook, although it's far more interesting than the basilica. The church was founded in 1147, St. Ignatius took his vow to be a Jesuit here, and this is one of the oldest (some say the oldest) churches in Paris. It's been badly usede--it was a "Temple of Reason" after the Revolution, and even a clothing factory. It's a parish church again. The war memorial hasn't been treated too well, either, with this big crucifix in front of it. The memorial itself has only the simplest iconography, so the crucifix isn't out of place in that sense; but it not only blocks the view but utterly upstages and all but obliterates the tablets.

Chuches in the 18th not having memorials (they are newer churches) include Sainte-Hélène and Sainte-Geneviève-des-Grandes-Carrières, both on the rue Championnet; no stars!


19th Arrondissement

ST. JACQUES-ST. CHRISTOPHE (founded 1686)

This memorial refers to the men who attended the school attached to the church. One can see that the Great War plays a very small role in the memorial and that it is combined with World War II. The school seems to have been closed in 1966; the memorial dates from May 1977.


This tablet lists the pastors (useful for dates).

ST. GEORGES

This A handsome memorial in every sense, despite its humble placement. It remembers not only the soldiers who died in battle but other "brothers in arms" who died and also civilians. A second memorial is for the members of "L'Oeuvre de Notre-Dames des Buttes" who died on the field of honor. The dark tablet to the left lists pastors of the parish.

June 5, 2007