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Interior of Les Invalides Church, Paris

The Saint-Louis-des-Invalides is the main church of the Invalides complex; it is connected to the more famous royal chapel known as the Dôme des Invalides. The church was built in 1676. The soldiers who lived at the Invalides were forced to attend the daily mass, hence it is also known as the soldiers' church.

Church of Les Invalides history

Soon after the main Hôpital des Invalides had been completed, Louis XIV decided that the veterans also required a chapel to pray in. The soldiers’ chapel opened in 1677 - only one year after the completion of the main Hôpital des Invalides. The chapel was officially finished later, in 1679. The chapel is known as “Église Saint-Louis des Invalides”. After it had been completed, daily attendance was required for all the veterans staying at Les Invalides. During the French Revolution, buildings and symbols of the monarchy and the Catholic Church were often attacked and damaged. The Église Saint-Louis was no exception and the church was ransacked during the revolution. As a result, it lost many of its treasures. During a period after the revolution, the church was unofficially said to have lost its religious purpose and it was unofficially renamed to “The temple of Mars” after the Roman god of War. After the Revolution, all French orders of chivalry were abolished. Later when Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, he wanted to reward civilians and soldiers for their brave deeds and not for their nobility rankings. This led to the formation of a new Order called Légion d’Honneur; the Legion of Honor. The Order’s very first decoration ceremony took place here in this church on July 15th, 1804. In 1837, the chapel area of Église Saint-Louis was separated from dome area by a large glass wall. From that date and on, the chapel area is considered to be the Église Saint-Louis des Invalides and the dome area has been given a new name; Église du Dôme.

Why visit Church of Les Invalides ?

Église Saint-Louis is truly one of a kind. When entering this church, visitors say it is unlike any other church in Paris. In contrast to many of the Gothic churches in Paris, the Saint-Louis church is very light and the much of the interior consists of white shining marble. This background is embraced throughout the church, as visitors can see a multitude of different banners and flags hanging from the walls. The church is also unique in the fact that it is still rather unknown, despite being located on a major tourist site. Many of the people who visit the church never heard of it prior to their Paris visit, so it is still somewhat of a hidden gem inside the Les Invalides. Another evidence of the church’s military connection can be found under it, in its crypt. Under Les Invalides and Église Saint-Louis lie a large number of French 19th and 20th century officers and generals interred.

The soliders church

“The Soldiers Church”, as it is sometimes called, is not only known for its military background. The church also houses one of the largest instruments in France; its beautiful organ. The organ is located at the back of the chapel, above the entrance.
Anyone who has seen it will tell you it is not only large, but also very beautiful. The original organ was built during year 1686, but has throughout the year received many restorations. There are still however, some original stops from the 17th century left in the organ. (Source: lesinvalideschurch)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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