St-Séverin Church in Paris

The church of Saint-Séverin is in the Latin Quarter in Paris, just 400 meters from the Notre-Dame cathedral and 600 meters from Sainte-Chapelle. I must have walked past the Saint-Séverin Church hundreds of times over the years, without ever going inside, but my curiosity was finally aroused when I read about François Mitterrand’s wedding there in October 1944, two months after the Liberation of Paris from German occupation.

As his wife Danielle told it after his death, it was a beautiful wedding day until Mitterrand abruptly said he had to leave to chair a political meeting of the MNPGD (National Movement of Prisoners of War and Deportees). Danielle was shocked that he would do that on his wedding night, but insisted on going with him. “And so it was in my wedding dress that I first attended a meeting chaired by François.”

Entrance on Rue des Prêtres de St-Séverin

Saint-Séverin is said to be the oldest church on the Left Bank (even older than Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre?). It was built from the 13th to the 15th centuries, on a site where several earlier churches had stood.

Inside the St-Séverin Church

Saint Séverin of Paris was a hermit who lived on or near this site around the year 540. He seems to have spent most of his life shut up in a cell on the banks of the Seine, praying and meditating. Unlike numerous other saints of that period (such as Saint Germain, who was Bishop of Paris from 555 until his death in 576), Saint Séverin does not seem to have had any position of power in the church hierarchy, but attracted followers simply through conspicuous prayer and meditation.

Painting and stained-glass window in St-Séverin Church

This sober, classical painting from the year 1845 is La fuite en Egypte (The flight to Egypt) by Émile Signol (1804-1892), whose paintings can also be found in several other Paris churches.

Pieta, stained-glass window in St-Séverin Church

My photos and text in this post are from 2023.

See more posts on the Latin Quarter in Paris.
See more posts on François Mitterrand (1916-1996).

9 thoughts on “St-Séverin Church in Paris”

  1. I don’t think we’ve ever been inside either. As usual we’ll be staying on the Left Bank for our September visit so must try to pop in 🙂

  2. So enjoyed this little visit to the L’église Saint-Séverin. Probably situated in the original and oldest part of Paris! Great report and photos!

  3. That is some wedding day story, not sure too many brides would have been so conciliatory. I have a feeling that we may have wandered into this church on one of our previous visits to Paris, it looks familiar….and we have wandered the Latin Quarter often.

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