Eglise St Sulpice – A Place of History and Fiction

St Sulpice – Brought into the Limelight by The Da Vinci Code:

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St Sulpice High Altar

The visit of Silas, the scary albino monk and assassin, to St Sulpice in search of the Holy Grail is a scene that endures in my memory.  And, since The Da Vinci Code, a visit to Eglise St Sulpice will probably never be the same for many.

However, Hollywood blockbuster aside, St Sulpice is not the same – after four years of restoration work, its 71-metre high North tower is as good as new, and in fact much more robust than its original construction.

Restoration of St Sulpice

Although the construction of Eglise St Sulpice began in 1646, the building was not completed until 1870. Errors made during its original construction and various faulty restoration attempts caused the North tower to become unsafe.

During this latest major restoration project, its five bells, Thèrèse, Caroline, Louise, Marie and Henriette, were brought down from the belfry and completely cleaned and restored in Normandy. This is a laudable triumph as the five bells weigh 50 tonnes in total. The four statues of evangelists were also brought down for the restoration and these weighed 20 tonnes each.   St Sulpice’s organ, one of the largest in the world, also got a tuning up for the celebration of the completion of the restoration project. Occasionally classical concerts are performed here.
Check what’s on St Sulpice.

St Sulpice and The Da Vinci Code

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St Sulpice Gnomon by Daniele Raffo/Wiki

St Sulpice is on Place Sulpice in Paris’ fashionable 6th arrondissement and is one of the largest Paris churches. Since The Da Vinci Code, movie buffs,  scholars and scientists  have been flocking to St Sulpice to check out the ‘Rose Line’ and any evidence of the ‘Priory of Sion’, a 900 year-old secret society.  So popular is this movie that the  the church felt it necessary to put up a notice pointing out the Hollywood myths:  The brass inlay meridian line was never called the ‘Rose Line’, St Sulpice  is not associated with any secret society and that the ‘P’ and ‘S’ initials incorporated into the design of the small windows at both ends of the transept refer to Peter and Sulpice and not the Priory of Sion.

What to See in St Sulpice

St Sulpice is a historic church and for those interested in the ‘real’ attractions of this Paris church, the following are some of the main interior attractions:

  • the Delacroix frescoes in the Chapelle des Anges (Chapel of the Angels), to the right of the entrance
  • the Rococco Chapelle de la Madone (Chapel of the Madonna)
  • the tomb of Curé Languet de Gergy in the fifth chapel. He founded the world’s first pediatric hospital and oversaw the completion of St Sulpice
  • St Sulpice’s organ – with its 6,588 pipes it is one of the world’s largest

On the exterior, visitors can now enjoy the restored North tower which for many years has been wrapped up under cover.  The fountain in the church square bears sculptures of Fenelon, Massillon, Bossuet, and Flechier, four bishops from the Louis XIV era.

Place Saint-Sulpice
2, rue Palatine
75006 Paris

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