Churches of Saint Merri and Notre-Dame de Lorette
The Church of Saint Merri was built in the late flamboyant Gothic style during the first half of the sixteenth century, just as Renaissance taste was taking hold in Paris. The church is very similar in plan to Notre-Dame Cathedral, with an elongated choir, and the traditional design features such as elaborate window tracery and ribbed vaulting. The Church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette was built between 1823 and 1836 by Louis-Hippolyte Lebas (1782–1867), who won the design competition for the building. The neoclassical design is typical of the period in which it was conceived, and was inspired by the plans of ancient Christian basilicas. The sober exterior is dominated by a monumental entrance portico surmounted by a pediment with sculpted figures of Faith, Hope, and Charity. Inside, rich painted decoration covers every interior surface, which shocked Parisians with its extravagance when the church first opened. The care of these structures is under the stewardship of the City of Paris, but like many of these significant but lesser-known churches, they do not have adequate maintenance and conservation resources. The churches were included on the 2014 World Monuments Watch in order to raise awareness about the plight of these smaller jewels, which are so integral to the historic urban landscape of Paris.
Chapel Paintings Restored at Notre-Dame de Lorette
In the spring of 2015, WMF collaborated with the City of Paris and the “association pour la sauvegarde de Notre Dame de Lorette” to carry out diagnostic and structural surveys. The resulting reports revealed that the Baptistery Chapel in the Church of Notre-Dame de Lorette was in most urgent need of restoration.
The Chapel’s architectural spaces are decorated with paintings produced by Adolphe Roger between 1833 and 1840. The paintings suffer from deterioration due to multiple causes. To keep the pictorial matter from falling, the paintings are partly covered by Japanese paper and are therefore less clearly visible. Restoration of the 19th century paintings in the Baptism Chapel, funded by a 2014 grant from American Express, began in late 2015 and is scheduled for completion in September 2016.
Since the Watch listing, Paris’s smaller places of worship have become known to a larger audience; in April 2015 the City of Paris announced the allocation of €80 million for the restoration of the city’s religious buildings.
Watch Day celebrations at the Church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette were held on September 19 and 20, 2015, to coincide with the country’s Heritage Days, organized by the French ministry of culture. The event included guided visits and an organ concert. The following week, neighborhood children enjoyed a specialized tour of the church.