Eglise Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles, Paris

4.3
The Église Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles de Paris is a Roman Catholic parish church in the 1st arrondissement of Paris. It has housed the relics of the Empress Saint Helena, mother of Constantine, since 1819, for which it remains a site of veneration in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. In 1915 the French Ministry of Culture listed it as a monument of historical value.
Construction of the church began in 1235. Since then, the building has undergone several major renovations and modifications, notably in 1320, 1611, 1727, and 1780, when an underground chapel was added.
In 1819 the relics of Saint Helena were transferred to the church from the Abbaye Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers by the knights of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre.
When Boulevard de Sébastopol was cleared in 1857, the church’s three chapels and apse were destroyed. A renovation project was undertaken by architects Étienne-Hippolyte Godde and Victor Baltard.
In 1875, after the Paris Commune, the reliquary of Saint Lupus of Sens was opened in order to carry out an anatomical analysis of the remains of Saint Helena. Based on the medical findings, Monsignor Richard, Archbishop of Paris, announced that the “reliquary contained the almost-complete torso of Saint Helena”, that “the head was missing and the limbs compressed”, and that “the state of the body conserved in the reliquary of the Église Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles corresponded to the descriptions known to the Bollandistes in the 18th century”. The reliquary was subsequently placed on open display above and behind the high altar, at the feet of the large crucifix, suspended between two pillars of the apse.
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Eglise Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles Reviews
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  • This is a Roman Catholic parish church on Rue Saint Denis in the 1st District of Paris. It is north of Pompidou a few blocks and can be conveniently viewed when sightseeing in the area. Originally con...  more »
  • The origin of this church dates back to the 13th century. It houses the relics of Saint Helene, who was the concubine of a Roman Emperor and the mother of Constantine, Roman Emperor, whom she converted to the Christian faith.
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  • This is a Roman Catholic parish church on Rue Saint Denis in the 1st District of Paris. It is not far north of Pompidou and can be conveniently viewed when sightseeing in the area. Originally constructed in the 13th-century, numerous enlargements and modifications took place up until 1780, providing the bulk of the present church you see today. Recent church history is also much associated with the relics of Saint Helena, mother of early 4th-century ruler Emperor Constantine, which were transferred to the church in the late 19th century. Due to the narrow street in front of the church, it is a bit challenging to appreciate the facade and immediate exterior of Eglise Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles. However, you can enjoy a simple Gothic facade with side turrets on both sides of the entrance. We further found the interior to be quite dark throughout. You can walk through the nave, viewing a fine alter with surrounding decoratively carved columns and a nicely carved pulpit. However, it was rather difficult taking pictures due to poor light conditions on the day. There are nice stained-glass windows to see. However, quite a few within the upper level of the church were missing, at present being replaced with temporary clear glass panes. Would be nice to see the interior with replacements window panes at some point in the future. In the end, we liked Eglise Saint-Leu-Saint-Gilles but found it more difficult to enjoy given the dark conditions on the day we visited. Will have to give her another visit in the future so that we can better view and appreciate the church.
  • An amazing church open to visit and or worship most days. It was the the church of the royals and rich centuries ago. The holy water fountain was donated by Victor Hugo. The massive arches, carved stone pillars and spirit filled painting filled me with awe. It is currently an active Catholic church and you can fill the spirit of worship and God. Multilingual information about the church's history and art are available.
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