Saint-Chapelle, The Chapels


A gem of High Gothic architecture

In the centre of the Ile-de-la-Cite

The Palais de la Cite was the residence and seat of royal power from the 10th to the 14th centuries in Paris, and housed the Conciergerie and Sainte Chapelle which are now part of the Palace of justice, the new function of the building. I The Sainte-Chapelle was built between 1242 and 1248, in accordance with the wishes of Louis IX (king from 1226 to 1270 and the future Saint Louis) to house the relics of the Passion of Christ. The most famous of these relics was the Crown of Thorns, acquired in 1239 for a sum that greatly exceeded the cost of building the Chapel itself.    

Religious and political influence

The Holy Relics had belonged to the emperors of Constantinople since the 4thcentury. In purchasing them, Louis IX added to the prestige of both France and Paris which, in the eyes of medieval Europe, became a “New Jerusalem”, and hence the second capital of Christianity. Throughout the revolutionary period, the Sainte-Chapelle, which was a symbol of royalty by divine right, suffered a great deal of damage, although the stained glass windows remained intact. From 1846 onwards, a huge wave of restoration work was carried out on the building, giving it its current appearance.

The Ile-de-la-Cite

The seat of royal power

In the 1st century BC, the Parisii, a Gallic tribe, settled on an island in the middle of the River Seine, later known as the I1e-de-la-Cite, and founded the town of Lutetia, which in the 5th century took the name of Paris. In the 6th century Clovis, the first French King, made the Palais de la Cite his royal residence. His son Childebert had Paris’s first cathedral built.

At the end of the l Oth century, Nugues Caper, the first Capetian king, established his royal council and government in the palace, which thus became the seat of royal power.

A palace deserted by its kings

In 1248, when Louis IX signed the deed foun­ding the Sainte-Chapelle, the nearby Cathedral of Notre-Dame already had its current facade. In 1358, the advisors to King john II (The Good) were assassinated before the eyes of the Dauphin, the future Charles V, who once he became king decided to move to better protected premises, firstly the Hotel Saint-Pol, one of his Paris residences (no longer standing), then to the Louvre and Vincennes. The royal government, Parliament, Chancery and the Chamber of Accounts remained in the Capetian palace for a while, but as the centuries passed only the law courts and prison stayed on.

Nowadays, the Sainte-Chapelle and the Conciergerie are the only visible remains of the oldest palace of the kings of France.

Two sanctuaries, one on top of the other

From the beginning, the relics were displayed and worshipped in the upper chapel. Only the king, his close friends and family, and the canons leading the services entered it via the outdoor terrace, which at the time was connected to the Palace. The lower chapel was the place of worship for the palace staff.

The basilica-type layout with a semi-circular apse was very simple. It was to be used as a model for other Holy Chapels, including those of Vincennes and Chateaudun.

The lower chapel

Visitors are greeted by a statue of the Virgin Mary, the sanctuary’s patron saint, at the portal. Inside, the polychrome decoration, like the carved decoration in the porch, dates back to the 19th­century restoration work. In the apse on the left, above the door to the former sacristy, is a 13th­century fresco depicting the Annunciation. This is the oldest wall painting in Paris.

The low vault is held up by openwork struts linking the aisle columns to the lateral walls. These walls are decorated with blind trefoil arcatures and 12 medallions featuring the apostles. The vaults’ fleur-de-lvson an azure background are also found on the columns, alternating with the towers on a purple background which were the arms of Queen Blanche of Castile, Louis IX’s mother.

The Upper Chapel

This is a truly monumental and sumptuously decorated reliquary. Sculptures and windows combine harmoniously to glorify the Passion of Christ and create a feeling of entry into the Heavenly jerusalem, bathed in light and colour. The Sainre-Chapelle owes much of even its early fame to its stained glass windows.

The 1,113 scenes depicted in the 15 stained glass windows tell the story of mankind from Genesis through to Christ’s resurrection. Fourteen of the windows, depicting episodes from the bible, should be read from left to right, from the bottom upwards.

I The window telling the story of the relics of the Passion is the only one to he read houstro­phedonicall. In the lower part of the lights, it illustrates the tale of the relics, from their discovery bv Saint Helen in Jerusalem to their arrival in the kingdom of France.

2 The Statue of Saint Peter is the original, as are 5 other apostle statues. He is holding the keys to heaven. The statues of the 12 apostles, the “pillars of the Church” are symbolically arranged in the nave on the ribbed vault’s springing line. Thev typify the harmony and idealised faces of Parisian sculpture in the years between 1240 and 1260.

3 The great shrine containing the 22 relics” of the Passion of Christ, including the fragment of the Holy Cross and the Crown of Thorns, used to be displayed on the gallery but was melted down during the Revolution. The remaining relics are now kept in the treasury of the Cathedral of Notre-Darne de Paris.

4 The western rose illustrates the prophetic Apocalypse of St John, symbolically represented opposite the Passion of Christ in the choir’s central stained glass window. In the centre of the rose, Christ returns in glory at the end of Time to judge the dead and the living.

The 100 foliage-decorated capitals along the lateral walls are all different. The angels on the corner pieces of the arcatures echo the 42 martyr scenes featured in the quatrefoils.

Jubilee Way Pilgrimage in Lourdes – How to Organize

Whether you have only a few hours or a few days in Lourdes, you can easily organize and follow a pilgrimage program that is appropriate for your length of stay.  Follow the Jubilee Way in one of the following formats:

You only have a few hours

Follow the 3’d part of the Jubilee Way from Saint Michael’s gate to the Grotto.

You have half a day

Follow the 2°d and 3’d part of the Jubilee Way (from the Cachot to the Grotto). Take part in the Eucharist Procession of 5.00 pm or at the Evening Marian Torchlight procession at 9.00 pm: they take place daily from 16’° March to 26′h October 2008

You have one day

Follow the four parts of the Jubilee Way. Take part in any one of the processions.

You have two days

You have time to follow the Jubilee Way at your own pace over one or two days, and to take part every day in one of the two processions. You can watch the video on the message of Lourdes in the Information Forum. You can visit the Rosary Basilica and its recently restored mosaics, and the Basilica of Saint Pius X, an audacious building realised in 1958.

You have three days

To the two-day program you can add the International Mass on Wednesdays and Sundays at 9.30 am, call into one of the Pavilions (information offices for various Church movements), the free visit of the Treasure Museum of the Sanctuary.

You have four days

To the three-day programme, you can add two important places in the life of Bernadette (the Boly Mill and Bartres), the visit to the Museum of Saint Bernadette and the exhibition in the castle, or the films of Jean Delannoy, Bernadette and the Passion of Bernadette at the cinema Bernadette, situated close to Saint Joseph’s Gate.

Machu Picchu


For the world-class traveler, Machu Picchu-situated 7,000 feet above sea level-does not disappoint. Hike the Inca Trail for an adventure that lasts any­ where from two days and one night to eight days and seven nights. After days in the sun, where donkeys bear­ing human cargo scale teetering lodges and helicopters hover over the landscape to offer you breathtaking views, unwind in a five-star hotel conveniently located in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. To the joy of history buffs and the jet set elite, these hotels boast a union of old and new that is sure to entice. For thousands of years, the sacred site has been the desti­nation of pilgrimages and long spiritual journeys, and even today, mystery radiates from the ruins. Machu Picchu is one of the rare places where an undeniable sacredness coexists in the midst of all that is thoroughly modern. It is this integrity and ancient charm that unleashes the world-class hiker in all of us, coerces out endurance we never knew we had and makes us appre­ciate such natural marvels in our world.


Boasting expansive archways and architectural ingenuity, Hotel Monasterio was founded in the consecrated San Antonio Abaci seminary and is a national historical landmark. The building was restored and a chapel was added after an earthquake in 1650. The Baroque-style hotel features gold-plated frames and paintings of the life of San Antonio Abad by the most innovative artists of the Cusquenian Art School. Relax in your Spanish-style room and enjoy nature in the hotel’s courtyard, which features a soft fountain and 300-year-old cedar trees, gardens and stone cloisters. Enjoy a buffet breakfast and Saturday Inca dinners at the hotel’s El Tupay Restaurant or visit the Main Square/Courtyard for lunch and dinner. Conde Nast Traveler named this luxury hotel Best Hotel in South America in 2008. Calle Palacios 136, Plazoleta Nazarenas, Cusco, Peru, +51-84-60-4000