History of the Sacré-Coeur
Built on the hill of Montmartre, the Roman-Byzantine basilica of the Sacred Heart dominates Paris. It was built in devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus after the 1870 disaster, the capture of Paris by the Prussians, and the civil war which steeped the capital in blood. The archbishop of Paris in 1872 approved the wish of a Parisian, Mr. Legentil, to build a sanctuary dedicated to the heart of Jesus-Christ, "true God and real man", present in the Holy Sacrament on display day and night. Therefore he chose the site where Saint Denis was beheaded because of his faith in late 3rd century. In 1873, the parliament voted a law declaring the building of public interest. The basilica's construction was financed by every parish in France.
In 1875, work began. Unfortunately, with the breakout of the First World War, the consecration planned for 1914 had to be postponed until after the war.
The basilica is built on a vast scale to take full advantage of its commanding site.
The architect Abadie was inspired by the Romano-Byzantine style. The domes, elongated into ovoid forms, the 80-metre bell-tower from which the 19-ton Savoyarde bell can be heard, the whiteness of this monument which overlooks the whole of Paris, henceforth makes it one of the major landmarks of Parisian scenery. The building's extraordinary whiteness is a result of the material used in its construction: Chateau-Landon stone bleaches with age.
The impressive façade with its triple-arched portico is surmounted by two bronze equestrian statues of St. Joan of Arc and St. Louis by H. Lefebvre, and the climax of the overall design is the statue of Christ, his hand raised in blessing.
In contrast to the exterior, the interior is extensively decorated with mosaics: those in the apse over the high altar were designed by Luc-Olivier Merson and show Christ adored by the Virgin, St. Joan of Arc and St. Louis.
Since 1885, the prayer of perpetual worship has been the most important part of the life and activities of this worldwide famous sanctuary.
The Sacré Coeur Basilica is a place of pilgrimage where the chaplains and the Benedictine nuns of the Sacred Heart welcome pilgrims, faithful worshippers and all those who seek God. Adjacent to the basilica is the Ephrem guest house which is open to pilgrims who have previously booked a room.
The basilica publishes a spiritual magazine for everyone containing the various organized activities, previous months' events, spiritual teaching, a book of prayers and Christian testimonies.
35 rue du Chevalier de la Barre
Tel.: +33 (0)1 53 41 89 00
How to get there
Metro line 2 or 12
- Abbesses (then take the funicular)
- Anvers (then take the funicular),
54, 80, 95 and Montmartrobus (from Métro Jules Joffrin or Pigalle)
Basilica open from 9 am to 6 pm and from 9 am to 7 pm in summer.