Eglise Saint Sulpice

The church of Eglise Saint Sulpice although made internationally famous recently in the popular Dan Brown book Da Vinci Code has been existing in the neighbourhood of Saint Sulpice, Paris for many centuries.  The church located in the Luxembourgquarter of the Vle arrondissement is the second largest churchof Parisafter the majestic Notre Dame. The present church has been erected over the area where there was previously a Romanesque church and is dedicated to Sulpitius the Pious, a 7th century bishop of Bourges. The construction of the late Baroque church began in 1646 and was completed by 1745.

Inside the church square is a beautiful fountain constructed by the architect Louis Visconti between 1843 and 1848. He was commissioned by the prefet of Seine, Rambuteau, during the government of King Louis – Philippe I. The fountain has three octagonal bases, and on the fountain are figures of four French religious figures, Fenelon, Massillon, Bossuet and Flechier. The second base of the fountain is decorated with sculptures of lions and the third has masks which sprout water.

On either side of the entrance to the church are two enormous shells sculpted by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle and were given to King Francis I. Inside the church, the main attractions are the famous fresco paintings, Jacob wrestling the angel, Heliodorus Driven from the Temple by the French Romantic artist Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix. Another work of art in the church is the Chapelle De la Madone, with a statue of the virgin by the French architect Servandoni. He also decorated the altars and the exterior of the church.  The fifth chapel contains the tomb of Cure Languet de Gory, the founder of the first pediatric hospital. The tomb was designed by Michel-Agne Slodtz. The churches grand organ located at the west was constructed by Aristide Cavaille-Coll in 1781 and designed by Chalgrin. The organ stands as one of the worlds largest with 6,558 pipes and has been played by famous artists such as Marcel Dupre and Charles-Marie Widor. The music that this grand and ancient organ produces is without parallel and maintained even today in the same way as Coll had left it.

Another very interesting and recently acclaimed attraction in the church is the Gnomon which was constructed at the request of Jean-Baptiste Languet De Gery, the then priest of Saint Sulpice. The meridian line or most commonly known as the rose line as in the Dan Brown book, is a brass line laid across the floor. It starts from a white marble obelisk at the top of which is a sphere surmounted by a cross. It is a beautiful astronomical instrument built by the English clock maker Henry Sully in order to determine the time of the equinoxes. The meridian or the rose line has been associated to a pagan symbol used by the so called Priory of Sion, the fraternal organization in the Da Vinci Code. This organization is believed to guard the Merovingian dynasty or last living descendents of Jesus Christ. But in reality still no such thing has been proved up till now.

Either ways this church has attracted the eyes of tourists from the world over all the time but due to the exciting element added to it by the book it has become a popular must see now in France among the old and the young. Stepped in history and mystery, it truly is a belle eglise.

Madhurima Ganguly