Saint Severin

Saint Severin (41)

The church of Saint Severin is one of the most beautiful in Paris. It is a perfect example Parisian flamboyant Gothic style. Its name comes from a hermit who lived in the area in the 6th century. This hermit was known as Severinus the Solitary and had an oratory here.

The original church had to be rebuilt around 1495 and has several peculiarities that make it special. The most noticeable is the ingenious construction of the double ambulatory, in which stands a magnificent stone palm grove. 

In 1864, the Grande Mademoiselle Anne Marie Louise d’Orleans, cousin of Louis XIV, took over Saint Severin. After breaking with her regular parish church, Saint Sulpice, she dedicated herself to this one and had its presbytery renovated.

The church cemetery is currently a garden. This is where the first gall-bladder stones operations were carried out in 1474. Louis XI promised freedom to an archer who had been condemned to death if he survived the operation. The operation was a success and the archer was set free. In the garden there is a medieval charnel house.

It is well worth taking in both the exterior and interior of the building. The bell tower, dating from 1250, conserves the oldest bell in Paris inside, dating from 1412.

Inside we should mention the choir of the church, rebuilt in the 17th century. And in the centre of the ambulatory is the Twisted or Solomonic Pillar, around which are entwined the fourteen ribs of the apse arch. Without doubt, an architectural spectacle.

We would also highlight two old paintings. One of them is “Saint Luke writing the gospel”, work from the 17th century French school, and the other is a “Crucifixion” in the sacristy and which is by Brueghel the Elder.

The restored stained-glass windows of the first section date from the 14th century. Those in the high part of the apse and the nave date from the 15th and 16th centuries.

Another outstanding element of Saint Severin is its imposing organ, considered one of the best in Paris and which can be heard during the concerts regularly held here. So if you have the chance, we recommend a concert in the incomparable setting of this beautiful church. 

We would also recommend, as a curiosity, that you go to number 22, Rue St. Severin, very nearby the church, so you can see one of the narrowest houses in Paris. 

It was the residence of Abate Prévost, a famous French writer with a great spirit of adventure, who among the more-than 50 novels he wrote, feature the Memories and adventures of a man of quality, his most known work, expanded later with the History of the knight Des Grieux and Manon Lescaut.

The fact is, Paris is full of pleasant surprises when you least expect them.

Furthermore, all this area is very nice for walking around.

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