Saint-Joseph des Nations,11ème

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Religion has had an evident qand significant impact upon the geography of Paris. The several church buildings that mark the city’s skyline attest to tis. This makes it an interesting place to discover the several and diverse workes of religious architecture in each of the arrondissements.

More often than not, the unique stories that lie behind these buildings also serve to make visiting sacred spaces in Paris such an interesting and educational experience. Often, one has to pay very close attention to the symbols and heraldry in most of the churches to place each of the buildings into historical conteext and to understand the power and social forces that made each of the cchurch buildings necessary.

One such building is Saint Joseph-des-Nations which I visited recently. If one looks closely you can notice sets of coat of arms belonging to the city of Paris, Pope Pius IX and the ‘archevéche’ (archbishop) at the time of the buildings first eucharistic mass in the late 19th century. These traces attest to the roole that religious sites played as an arena where international relations, city politics and domestic church needs met. After following up on the history of the church building, it appears to have been quite a complex one. The financing of the building, the need for the building and its legitimacy as a structure seemed to have been contentious and it took a while before the current, baroque structure was erected.

Today it still stands as a place of worship and as a feat of architectural mastery, but it also attests to the power politics and international relations that shaped the geography of this city — and the central role that religion played in giving much of the city’s character and form.

Address: 4 rue Darboy 75011
Métro: Goncourt (Line 11)