Sunday, June 24, 2018

Inside la Madeleine

I certainly wasn't the only tourist to enter the church of la Madeleine on that Sunday morning. I was surprised to find a service going on inside. I'm not Catholic, but it didn't seem like a mass to me. Just a priest (I assume) standing at a lectern off to the side of the main altar. And he was speaking in French, not Latin, with many references to Jesus, of course. The sound wasn't great and I didn't really focus on what he was saying. Maybe it was just a general, non-denominational service. Do they do that kind of thing?

You can see the priest under the angel statue on the right side of the altar.

I was also not the only tourist taking photos while the service was going on. I hope I was among the more discreet. The interior is vast, but the Madeleine is not a cathedral, nor is it a soaring gothic construction. It's just a church, but it's a big one. The building's neoclassical architecture is on full display inside, notably in the corinthian and ionic columns, the ornate entablatures, and the triangular pediments.

A woman lit a candle and, I assume, said a prayer. I imagine that's a statue of Mary, the church's namesake, in front of the purple screen.

I finished my snapshots quickly and went back outside. I decided to walk around the terraces of the church and see what the exterior looked like up close.


  1. The one and only time I was inside the église de la Madeleine was in late october 1949, with my mother, for a memorial concert for the one hundreth anniversary of Frédéric Chopin’s funeral in that same church with the same music, Mozart’s Requiem.

    1. I just noticed the interesting statue of Joan of Arc by Raoul Larche (1860-1912) [far left on the second photo].

    2. I would have been four years old at that concert. I'm glad your mother took you there for such a good memory, CHM. Thanks for pointing out the statue, too.

    3. Lol Evelyn. I was twenty five years old at the time and I think it is the reverse, it’s me who took my mother to that concert! She was a very good pianist and loved Chopin.

    4. Oh yes- now I understand, you were a grown man then and took your mother to the concert. I'm sure she was pleased.

  2. They speak French during mass. It's only the rebellious conservatives that tried to maintain Latin about 30 years ago.

  3. oui, la messe est en français et le prêtre qui parle, "fait un sermon" : enseignement ou commentaire des textes du jour (dans la religion catholique il y a des textes religieux prévus pour chaque jour de l'année)

  4. Holy S... well, holy moly! That is stunning. (But now I have a craving for madeleines.)

  5. It's difficult to imagine anyone conceiving of a building like this. It's just SO over the top.

  6. chm, it seems that they like having musicians' funerals here. Johnny Halliday was the latest to "appear" here!

    ellen, ah, ok. I am so not a Catholic that I once put a cigarette out in the holy water font when entering a church for a wedding. It looked like an ashtray! In my defence, it was a very modern church building...

    chistiane, merci de vos précisions !

    mitch, hehe...

    judy, have you been inside? It's quite impressive. It must have cost an awful lot!


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