Basilique Notre-Dame des Victoires (Our Lady of Victories Basilica)
Place des Petits-Pères (corner rue des Petits-Pères and rue Notre-Dame des Victoires), Paris, France [ Map ]
Notre-Dame des Victoires is an historic Marian shrine and place of pilgrimage built at the instigation of the Augustinian Fathers from 1629 with financial assistance from Louis XIII, who named the church Notre-Dame des Victoires in gratitude for the victory of French forces over the Huguenots at the Siege of La Rochelle (1627-8).
The interior includes a series of chapels and altars around the nave, dedicated to individual saints and devotions. The apse features seven massive paintings by the French artist Carle Van Loo (1705-1765). Six of these works relate to St Augustine and the seventh is a representation of Louis XIII dedicating the church to the Blessed Virgin.
There is a long and distinguished musical tradition at Notre-Dame des Victoires. The elaborate tomb of the Italian-born French Baroque composer Jean-Baptiste Lulli (Lully) (1632-1687) is located on the western side of the nave. Lulli was not directly associated with the church, but he lived nearby. The organ case at Notre-Dame des Victoires was crafted by Louis Regniér in 1739 and houses a recent instrument built by Alfred Kern in 1973.
Notre-Dame des Victoires was elevated to basilica status in 1927, two years after the canonisation of St Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) who was closely associated with this church.
In his capacity as Marist Visitor-General, Eymard travelled to Paris in late January 1849. Here, he met with members of the Association of Nocturnal Adorers, including Raymond de Cuers (1809-1871) and Hermann Cohen (1821-1871). The Association had established nocturnal adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at Notre-Dame des Victoires on 6 December 1848, about six weeks before Eymard’s visit. During his visit, Eymard also learned of a women’s adoration society founded by Théodelinde Dubouché. He became convinced of the importance of Eucharistic adoration and gave the Association permission to transfer its work to the Marist chapel in rue Montparnasse.
Eymard spent about a week in Paris during his January 1849 visit. Before making this trip, he told his sisters that he would celebrate Mass for them at Notre-Dame des Victoires. He later wrote that he had prayed for them every day in this church. Later, in the first week of May 1856 when Eymard had left the Society of Mary, he came to Paris to make a retreat alone to determine the will of God before presenting his plans for a Society of the Blessed Sacrament to the Paris bishops. He began this time of discernment by celebrating Mass at Notre-Dame des Victoires on 1 May 1856, the Feast of the Ascension.
Towards the end of his life, a few weeks before suffering the stroke that would eventually lead to his death, Eymard preached at Notre-Dame des Victoires on the Feast of Corpus Christi. A leaving collection raised 1,550 francs for his First Communion apostolate to the poor and working classes.
Several other saints also have direct associations with Notre-Dame des Victoires, including St Théophane Vénard (1829-1861), St Anthony Daveluy (1818-1866), and St Anthony Mary Claret (1807-1870). The ‘Little Flower’ St Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897) is reputed to have recovered from a serious childhood illness in 1883 after a novena of masses at this church.
Blessed (Cardinal) John Henry Newman (1801-90) is understood to have stopped in this church to give thanks for his conversion to Catholicism (from the Church of England), while travelling to Rome in 1846 to study for the Catholic priesthood.
In addition to its important musical association as the burial place of the composer Lulli, Notre-Dame des Victoires was at one time a favourite church of the great composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), who wrote to his father on 3 July 1778: ‘When I come to Paris, I never fail to say my rosary, to go to Notre-Dame des Victoires’.
When attendances were languishing in the mid-1830s, the parish priest Fr Charles Desgenettes was inspired in December 1836 to rededicate Notre-Dame des Victoires to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Almost immediately, attendances increased and the church began to be transformed. Desgnettes established the Association of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of Mary at this time to promote veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the conversion of sinners. The Association became an Archconfraternity in 1838 and has since attracted millions of members and supporters throughout the world.
Notre-Dame des Victoires : Organs of Paris [English]
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