The Basilica Of Childebert – Saint Germain Des Press

THE quaint old church of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, still dominant over an interesting quarter of Paris, on the rive gauche, was the nucleus of a large and powerful abbey, which once peopled this locality and had jurisdiction over an important section known as the Bourg Saint-Germain. The existing church, a mere fragment of the original construction, was the center of the abbey, as the abbey was the center of the bourg, or village, the whole having grown out of a foundation made in remote times by Childebert, the third son and immediate successor of Clovis, the second Merovingien king of Paris.

In ancient times the church and abbey were known as Saint-Vincent and Sainte-Croix, the former having been built as a shrine for the sacred relics brought back by Childebert from a victorious expedition against the Visigoths (531-543) which included the tunic of Saint-Vincent and a rich cross of gold, studded with precious stones, from Toledo, said to have been made for Solomon.

Childebert was encouraged and supported in his pious undertaking by Germain, the good bishop of Paris, so good and holy a man that he was canonized after death. When, two centuries later, his remains were lifted from their first resting place—the Oratory of Saint-Symphorien, attached to the right aisle of the church and solemnly transferred to a sepulchre behind the altar of Sainte-Croix, the basilica was rededicated to Saint-Germain.

Before the faubourg was inhabited, the abbey stood in the middle of a great prairie from which it took its name, des Pres—literally Saint-Germain of the Fields or Meadows—to distinguish it from Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois, another church, con-temporary or earlier, across the river, founded in honour of the bishop of Auxerre. The abbey long remained isolated in the middle of these meadows, so famous in University annals that they were called the Pre aux Clercs. Various cafes, restaurants, an hotel, and a remnant of a street pre-serve the name.

In founding the monastery, Childebert gave to the abbots his fief at Issy and the Oratory Saint-Andréol, afterwards Saint-Andre-des-Arts, with its territory, the whole comprising a vast domain extending from Sevres to the Petit Pont along the left bank of the Seine. King Pepin, who was present at the ceremony of the interment of Saint-Germain in the basilica, gave the monastery on this occasion the royal estate at Palaiseau, with its Merovingien palace, not far from Paris.

The abbots exercised absolute jurisdiction both spiritual and temporal over the faubourg Saint-Germain, whose constructions occupied little by little a large part of the lands given by Childebert to the abbey, and in 1255 the inhabitants of the villa Sancti-Germani were enfranchized and, considered as a body entirely distinct from Paris, enjoyed special immunities and made their own laws.

In the XIIIth century the village was of small extent and chiefly inhabited by vassals of the abbey, mostly agriculturalists, and consisted of thatched cottages, granges, and rustic buildings ; but as the taste for country life grew amongst the nobles and the rich bourgeoisie of Paris, the bourg became the country seat of the bishops of Rodez and Limoges, the duc de Bourbon, the seigneur de Garanciere, Madame de Valance, Madame de Cassel, the seigneur de la Folie, Regnier, cardinal d’Ostie, Navarre, and Nestle.

When Charles V declared war on England, in 1368, he obliged Richard, the abbot of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, to fortify his monastery, to enclose it in stout walls, defended by towers and moats filled with water from the Seine, as a safe-guard to the city itself.

In the XVIth century the long prosperity of the bourg commenced, and gradually its rustic character gave way to that of an opulent suburb; luxurious houses replaced the cattle sheds of the shepherds, beautiful gardens, pasture lands, streets were put through and old roads mended and made thoroughfares. The duchesse de Savoie, a princess of the blood, and grand seigneurs such as the dukes of Montpensier and Luxembourg, and a number of important personages and foreign notables such as Salviati and the Gondis, illustrious men like Clement Marot, Ambroise Pare, Jean Cousin, and Du Cerceau built sumptuous homes.

In the XVIth century fashion adopted the quarter and it was considered in good taste to have a house there. The life combined the agree-able features of both city and country; tennis was the popular relaxation, and on fete days a crowd flooded the pre aux Clercs.

Meanwhile the territory of the abbey was much abridged from the time of Henri II to Louis XIV, and little by little the power of the abbey was restricted to its actual limits. The faubourg Saint-Germain was not definitely united to Paris until under Louis XIV.

As the church had been the nucleus, so the monastery remained the centre and pivot of the world which grew up around it. From Childebert to Dagobert the basilica had served as sepulchre for the kings and princes of the Merovingien Dynasty, all those who died in Paris or in the diocese were buried beneath the paving of the splendid monument to its founder and its patron saints.

Up to 1503 the abbots were elected by the monks, but afterwards appointments were made by the crown. From its riches the chief was usually a cardinal, sometimes a king, and Hugues Capet, and Casimir V, of Poland, were amongst the abbots of Saint-Germain-des-Pres. The comte du Vexin, son of Louis XIV and Madame de Montespan, died as abbot in his eleventh year (1683) and lies buried in the church with Francois, prince de Conde, who died in the abbatial palace in 1614, and his children. The hearts of cardinal Charles de Bourbon, Francoise d’Orleans-Longueville, princesse de Conde, and of Henri de Verneuil, bastard son of Henri IV and former abbot of the monastery, were interred in the church.

Next oldest church in Paris, after Notre-Dame, its origin goes back to the earliest souvenirs of France, while its founding was the result of a curious circumstance.

As narrated by dom Bouillard in his Histoire de l’Abbaye royale Saint-Germain-des-Prez, the facts culled from Gregoire de Tours and Fortunat, Childehert and his brother Clotaire joined forces in Spain against Teudis, the king of the Visigoths, the mortal enemies of the Francs. After capturing Aragon they made the siege of Saragossa, and sweeping everything before them would soon have captured the city, but for the extraordinary piety and faith of their simple opponents. Reduced to extremity and without hope of human aid, says the narrative, the in-habitants of Saragossa clothed themselves in sack-cloth and ashes, and singing psalms to the praise of the Lord, carried in procession about the walls of the city the tunic of Saint-Vincent, who had been their citizen, hoping thus to invoke miraculous intervention to accomplish the humanly impossible.

This singular means of defence struck Childebert and Clotaire, drawn up in battle array without the walls and at some distance from the city, with astonishment and terror. In the midst of their distress a peasant was seen to emerge from the city by one of the gates, and the kings at once had him arrested and brought before them. When he appeared they asked him the meaning of this demonstration upon the walls, to which the peasant replied with simplicity, that the people carried in procession the tunic of their patron saint Vincent, in order to appease the wrath of God and to obtain the raising of the siege.

We are constantly astonished at the inconsistencies of character in the descendants of Merovee. We have seen Childebert soften before the grief and terror of the children of Clodomir; we now again behold the brothers, who had not scrupled to murder their nephews for their own aggrandizement, moved to tears before the spectacle of a people’s naive faith and piety. Childebert and Clotaire were so touched, says the narrative, that they raised the siege and promised to leave the Visigoths in peace—upon two conditions: first, that Arianism be abolished in Spain; and second, that the tunic of Saint-Vincent be given them as a trophy of war.

Necessity forced the Visigoths to accede to the demands, and Childebert brought the sacred vestment to Paris with great solemnities. With the best of intentions it is doubtful whether Childebert’s will would have held unaided in his project to raise a temple over the trophies of his victories, had not the bishop Germain kept him to his word.

Saint-Germain was of Autun, a primitive city of middle France. There, as abbot of Saint-Symphorien, he had become famous as a miracle worker and a man of piety, his reputation extending far and wide; so that, happening to be in Paris when the episcopal chair was vacant upon the death of the bishop Eusebe, he was appointed by Childebert to fill the place. This dignity the saint bore with humility, continuing the austerity of his life until old age. ” He suffered with sweetness,” says the narrative, ” the cold of age—and of winter, during which he never warmed himself.”

His influence over the king, though great, he used only for the advantage of his people and his church, never for himself. His miracles were many, and once when Childebert was mortally ill in his chateau de Chelles, at Melun, Germain spent the night in prayer at his bedside, and the king was saved. It was in gratitude for this that Childebert built Saint-Germain-des-Pres.

The church was erected in the old Roman suburb of Locutitius, where, according to tradition, still stood the vestiges of a temple to Isis, in order that the worship of God might displace that of the pagan divinity. Begun about 556 it was finished in 558. The plan of the church was cruciform, following the lines of Solomon’s cross. A rich mosaic formed the paving, and sheets of gilded copper covered the roof, itself supported by great marble columns. The sides were pierced by many windows, and paintings on a background of gold embellished the walls, while a ceiling laid in gold leaf completed an ensemble so rich in this material that the basilica was some-times called Saint-Germain-le-dore, or le palais dore de Saint-Germain. Childebert invested it with the sacred trophies—the tunic, the gold cross, thirty chalices, fifteen patens, twenty caskets in-tended to hold the evangels. All this we know from the author of the life of Doctrovee, the first abbot of the monastery.

At the end of each arm of the cross was an altar, the main one, to the east, dedicated to the Sainte-Croix. Besides these four altars Saint-Germain had erected, to the right of the main entrance, an oratory to Saint-Symphorien, in memory of his former charge at Autun, and this he chose as his sepulchre. Opposite was the oratory of Saint-Pierre. These opened from the inside of the church and constituted, in a sense, chapels of the nave.

Childebert, who seems at the time to have re-sided . at the Palais des Thermes, walked daily through his gardens as far as the basilica, to inspect the work. This we know from the writings of Fortunat. The good bishop’s cure pro-longed his life only a few years, for Childebert fell ill again before the church was finished, and died upon the day of dedication, 23 December, 558. The ceremony of dedication was immediately followed by the funeral of the king; he was interred with pomp in the church, on the south side between the second and third pillars of the apse, in a simple stone tomb, slightly raised above the level of the paving.

Clovis and Clotilde, the first king and queen of Paris, together with their two murdered grand-sons, were buried in the crypt of Sainte-Genevieve. From Childebert, their son, to Dagobert, their great-great-grandson, the builder of Saint-Denis, the kings and princes who died in Paris, or in the diocese, were buried at Saint-Germain-des-Pres. When they died elsewhere they were buried in other famous churches, as for instance, Clotaire, dying in his palace at Compiegne, was buried in the basilica of Saint-Medard, in his old capital at Soissons. Also Sigebert his son, assassinated by the furious Fredegonde, was interred at Saint-Medard.

Thus Saint-Germain-des-Pres became famous as the burial place for the Merovingien kings, as well as the shrine of Saint-Germain himself, and the sepulchre of other distinguished and notable personages. The list of dignitaries interred in the church is enormous, from Childebert, 558, and Ultrogothe, his queen, with their daughters, Crotberge and Clodesinde ; the king Caribert, 562; Chilperic, 584, Fredegonde, his queen, 597, with Merovee and Clovis, his sons; Clotaire II, 628, and Bertrude, his wife; Chilperic II with Bilihilde, his wife, 673, and Dagobert, their infant son, 674. These last three sepulchres were discovered in 1646, under the paving of the choir, near the north tower. The tomb of Clotaire II was a simple stone, without ornament or inscription.

Chilperic and Fredegonde were buried near the wall which supports the north bell tower of the choir. The queen’s tomb was covered by a slab in mosaic of a curious workmanship, the outlines of the figure and ornaments made by slender threads of gilded copper. Fredegonde is represented in the middle wearing the crown of fleur-de-lys, and the flowering sceptre in her hand. She wears royal robes, belted. Her face and hands are blank—the flat plain stone was perhaps once painted. The whole image is surrounded by a fine ornamental border.

The stone, rescued at the time of the Revolution, is preserved in the cathedral at Saint-Denis, where it forms one of the most interesting of the royal collection. The Benedictines and after them antiquarians of the old school considered the monument contemporary with the queen whose ashes it covered. Should this be true, the stone, owing to the durable qualities of the mosaic, would be the only one from Saint-Germain which survived the Norman invasions, when the riches of the abbey made it a first object of pillage and destruction. In this case it has been conjectured that the bare spaces in place of the face and hands, already referred to, were covered with silver or even gold, engraved, and that the metal was stolen by the invaders. The baron de Guilhermy, however, who made a minute examination of the stone, was convinced that it had been restored in the Xlth century, at the epoch of the first general reconstruction of the basilica under the Abbe Morard.

We must remember that the Normans sacked, burned, and almost entirely destroyed the monastery, descending upon it over and over again, in 845, 847, and 861. The body of the saint was the chief concern of the priests, and we have seen how it was carried to a place of safety within the walls of the city. Other sepulchres were desecrated and thus the tombs of Chilperic, the husband of the ferocious Fredegonde, and of Childebert, the founder, were recut in the XIth century.

The bones of Childebert and of Ultrogothe, his wife, in separate sarcophagi, were gathered up in the year 1656 and reinterred in the centre of the choir of the basilica, in a new tomb of marble upon whose sides the Benedictines had engraved beautiful antique inscriptions. The new monument was crowned by the ancient stone which had covered the primitive sepulchre of Childebert, and which seems also to have been a restoration from the Xlth century. This stone is at Saint-Denis and is distinguished by the severity and grandeur of its style. Sculptured in half-relief, the king carries in his right hand the apse of the church which he founded, and in his left a flowering sceptre. The drapery of the figure is cut by a master, and the whole has distinction and character.

The tomb of Chilperic, sculptured in relief, was similar to that of Childebert and made at the same time. It was broken during the Revolution and is replaced by an inferior copy made from engravings of the older monument.

The stones engraved with the portraits of Clotaire II and Bertrude, his queen, and of Childeric II were taken from Saint-Germain-des-Pres, and are preserved at Saint-Denis. They were cut in 1656, after the ancient originals which Bernard de Montfaucon tells us were allowed to perish with-out a thought for their archaeological importance.

The existing church is a mere fragment of the immense constructions that constituted the rich and powerful abbey which, royally endowed, grew up around the basilica chosen by Saint-Germain for his sepulchre. A well, known as the Puits Saint-Germain, was behind the high altar, near the tomb of the saint ; its water was reputed to have miraculous curative properties. Abbon, in his poem on the siege of Paris by the Normans, mentions this well and the virtues of its waters. Most early churches had similar miraculous wells. The opening was long since closed, but in the early days so many miracles were performed there that the church became a great sanctuary. The illustrious abbots who governed it, remarkable for their piety and wisdom, contributed also to its splendour. Several were of royal blood, others were chancellors and grands aumoniers of France, others rose to the dignity of cardinals.

The monks which Saint-Germain established in the monastery came from Saint-Symphorien of Autun, they followed the rules of Saint-Antoine and Saint-Basile; soon they embraced those of Saint-Benoit, the great legislator of the monks of the occident. In the XVIIth century the abbey adopted the reform of Saint-Maur, and it is in this return to the severity of discipline that its monks by their prodigious labours became illustrious all over Europe.

The buildings erected by Childebert and his successors were devastated by the Normans, as we have said. Each time these terrible men made incursions into Paris the abbey of Saint-Germaindes-Pres was the first exposed to their fury. Pillaged, burned, demolished, it was merely a mass of ruins when King Eudes finally expelled the barbarians.

These ruins had been patched up from time to time and made to serve as best they could until the time of Robert the Pious, when the abbe Morard, assisted by this prince, had the ruins torn down and rebuilt the church upon the old foundations. This we know from the inscription upon the sepulchre of the abbe Morard, recorded by pere Dubreul (d. 1614). Roughly translated from the Latin it read: ” Here lies Morard of happy memory, the abbot who rebuilt on the foundations of this church, after having destroyed the old one, which was three times burned by the Nor-mans. He also built a tower and several other things.” The tomb and inscription perished when the paving of the church was renewed, but the Louvre (Salle XXXVIII) preserves the stone lid of a sarcophagus found in the course of excavations made under the superintendence of Alexandre Lenoir in 1799, under the place where the high altar used to stand, and which is attributed to the tomb of the abbe Morard. It is a very hand-some piece of stone cutting, saddleback in shape, ornamented with fish-scales and palms and a vine stock growing from a vase on the sides. Lenoir describes fully the sarcophagus and its contents exhumed at the time.

From the Boulevard Saint-Germain one sees distinctly the base of the old south tower of the choir, cut off square at the point of departure of the fleche, the companion of the north tower, built by the abbe Morard, less visible from the Rue de l’Abbaye. Old engravings show the church as once having had three high-pointed steeples, one to the west and two rising from the intersection of the arms of the cross. These were embellishments added to the original plan under the reconstruction.

It has always been considered that the quadrangular tower, at the main entrance, which gives the church the appearance of a fortress, belonged to the first construction. The lower part is older than the upper, which, together with the oldest parts of the nave, are thought to have been built in the Xlth century. Exceedingly bare and unassuming, it retains, despite the drastic reparations and modifications it has undergone, its unmistakably primitive character, as does in fact the whole exterior of this solemn old church with the many excrescences which have adhered to it.

Walk under the dingy porch and raise the eyes to the shadowy space above the door. As the eye accustoms itself to the obscurity, quaint, rude sculpture reveals itself. First a long stone slab carved with little figures seated at a table, the folds of the cloth elaborately exaggerated—it is the Last Supper, for see, there is John lying in a somewhat absurd attitude across the knees of Jesus. The door has been clumsily changed from Roman to Gothic so that of the twelve apostles one counts but ten, the eleventh disappears into the right-hand wall, and the twelfth is completely covered by the alteration of the arch. The heads of Christ and most of the disciples have been broken off, but under the regular folds of the table-cloth the feet appear in neat pairs, except where a break has been repaired.

Above this panel is a still more strange human figure, in half-length, full face, the arms extended, the hands broken off above the wrists—but according to old descriptions once raised in an attitude of prayer. These two reliefs, which go back surely to earliest Christian times in Gaul, may be cited as proof of the antiquity of the tower.

The pillage of this door, which destroyed the royal portraits of the porch, at the time of the Revolution, has left us some extremely interesting capitals to the restored columns. These present handsome carving of decorative birds feeding upon pomegranates, alternated with foliated de-signs. The Cluny Museum (Salle des Thermes) preserves a collection of similar capitals from the interior of the church, evidently of the same epoch and probably by the same sculptor. They are listed as XIIth century.

The eight statues which stood, four to each side of the door, and which were in place until the Revolution, also went back to the first construction. Fortunately they had been engraved in several works, so that we know how they looked, and that they presented the forms and costumes of the VIth century, and greatly resembled the statues of Saint Anne’s porch at Notre-Dame and other originals existing at Chartres.

The figures represented, it is thought, Childebert (the founder), his wife, his parents, his brothers, and a bishop. The bishop stood first to the right on coming out of the church, then Clovis and Clotilde and their first son, Clodomir. On the other side Thierry, Childebert, Ultrogothe (his queen) and Clotaire. Pere Mabillon thought the bishop was Saint-Germain, a natural conclusion, but a more thoughtful student, dom Thierry, considered the figure to have been that of Saint-Remi, who converted the Francs. He stood next to Clovis, whom he baptised, and he treads under foot the dragon, emblem of unbelief. It would seem to have been characteristic of the modesty of the bishop Germain to have ceded his place to Remi.

Montfaucon, writing in 1724, describes the scrolls which the kings carried and upon which one could in his day still decipher some of the letters of their names. Clovis and Childebert only carried the sceptre, as kings of Paris, and Childebert holds also a book—the sign of the founder. Clotilde was usually represented with a web foot, and was called la refine pedauque, or the queen with a goose’s foot. The figures all wore the halo, following the example of the Roman emperors, the custom which marked the Merovingien race.

The principal entrance to the church is now in the Rue Bonaparte, or rather in the Place Saint-Germain-des-Pres, an opening made by the comparatively recent cutting through of the modern Rue de Rennes. As we see it upon the old charts the monastery was enclosed by the Rues Saint-Benoit, Sainte-Marguerite (now swallowed up in the Boulevard Saint-Germain), de L’Echaude, and Colombier (now the Rue Jacob). The main entrance was from the Rue Saint-Benoit to the west, and the church stood well within the enclosure surrounded by the cloisters, the refectory, the famous Chapel of the Virgin, the abbatial palace, and the gaol.

There were two cloisters, large and small, both to the north of the church. One of the sides of the larger cloister, that which touches the church, has been almost entirely preserved and is now distributed in apartments. Its round arches, doric pilasters, and frieze with triglyphs dates from the XVIIth century. A portion of it may be well seen from the court of No. 13 Rue de I’Abbaye. The Rue de l’Abbaye cuts the site of the great cloister through the middle.

The refectory, constructed in the time of the abbe Simon, by the illustrious architect of Saint-Louis, Pierre de Montereau, was considered a masterpiece. This great room was fifty feet long by thirty-two feet wide. Legendary subjects embellished with the arms of France and of Castille done in gorgeous glass filled the windows. Several panels are preserved in the Chapelle de Sainte-Genevieve, in the apse of the church, and others at Saint-Denis. The lectern was a marvel of sculpture. A statue of Childebert, in painted stone, stood at the entrance and is now taken care of in the Louvre (Salle IX) ; it dates from the middle XIIIth century, and is contemporary with the refectory itself, which was built from 1239 to 1244.

Gathered together in the small park which opens from a corner of the church are fragments of the great chapel to the Virgin, the chef-d’oeuvre of Pierre de Montereau, a chapel resembling in style and disposition his existing monument, the Sainte-Chapelle. A particularly handsome fragment is also displayed in the garden of the Cluny Museum. From this debris, constituting gargoyles, balustrades, columns, and ornaments, found in a garden at the corner of the Rue de l’Abbaye and Rue Furstemberg, as well as from the many contemporary descriptions one can build up some idea of the beauty of this celebrated chapel. It was begun under the abbe Hugues of Issy (d. 1247) and completed under Thomas de Mauleon, who resigned in 1255, and like the Sainte-Chapelle belongs entirely to the reign of Saint-Louis. Smaller than the chapel of the Palais, it was one hundred feet long, twenty-seven feet wide, and forty-seven feet in height. The door of the chapel, sculptured with great finesse, and the statue of the Virgin from its pier are at Saint-Denis.

When Pierre de Montereau died, in 1266, the abbe Gerard de Moret raised a monument to him in the Chapelle de la Vierge.

The opening of the Rue de l’Abbaye cost this old quarter the refectory and the chapel. Important fragments of the latter remained, however, for many years and were inhabited by artists who found here a sympathetic environment. I have before me a letter, written by one of them, Truman H. Bartlett, dated January 21, 1920, which contains a description of this quarter as he knew it in the early seventies. He says: ” The old number 10 Rue de l’Abbaye was my studio, in ’72-3-4. It was originally the Chapel of the Virgin of the church Saint-Germain-des-Pres. The first floor was slightly below the street and its paving consisted of handsome stones inscribed with the names of the eminent monks buried there. Below this was another floor reached by a narrow steep stair where there was a fine well of water, and from this lower story was the door of a stone passage-way leading to a larger one that went down from the church to the Rue Bonaparte and continued to the Seine. When the city put a large sewer through the Rue de Rennes I happened to pass by and see the whole thing. The large stone pas-sage was used in early times by the monks to reach the Seine during the Norman invasions.”

A modern apartment house blots out every vestige of the building of which Mr. Bartlett speaks, but the old abbey cellars are still in existence.

The Palais Abbatial still stands to the rear of the church, entered from the Rue de l’Abbaye, a handsome brick and stone edifice of the late XVIth century. A monument to the munificence of cardinal de Bourbon, who built it about 1586, it conserves in its handsome roof and graceful design, despite the general dishonour of its finer attributes, a distinguished and unmistakable air.

Concealed behind an ugly brick wall is the hand-some old doorway of the palace of the abbots, but within all is changed.

Mere names now remain to mark once famous spots. The Rue Cardinal curved around the stables of the palace and along the gardens behind and to the south of the church.

The abbey was suppressed on February 13, 1792, and the church was closed. The refectory which served as a prison in 1793 was destroyed by an explosion in the following year (part of the building having been made into a factory for the manufacture of saltpetre). The monks then forgotten in their homes were obliged to seek another shelter, and fled all with the exception of dom Poirier, who, like Cassandra on the ruins of Ilion, would not abandon the smoking ruins. Thanks to this devoted Benedictine the library, which had caught fire, was partly saved. The manuscripts were all preserved and in 1795 were brought to the Bibliotheque Nationale. The library contained nearly fifty thousand printed volumes and over seven thousand manuscripts.

In 1792 the gaol of the abbey, situated at the southeastern angle of the enclosure, was a scene of horror. Priests and nobles in great number were imprisoned there.

Under the Restoration many monuments and other valuables, given temporary shelter in Lenoir’s hastily improvised museum at the Beaux-Arts, were given back to the church. These included a Virgin in marble, called Notre-Dame-la-Blanche (which the Queen Jeanne d’Evreux had given in 1340 to the abbey of Saint-Denis), a statue of Sainte-Marguerite by frere Jacques Bourlet (1705), and a figure of Saint-Francois Xavier, by Coustou jeune.

The mausoleum of Casimir, king of Poland, who became abbot of Saint-Germain in 1669, after having renounced his crown, ,was reestablished about 1824, in the left transept. The kneeling figure, offering his crown and sceptre, is by Marsy, the relief underneath is by Jean Thibaut.

In the opposite transept is a similar tomb, reestablished at the same time, of Oliver and Louis de Castellan, killed in the service of the king in 1644 and 1669. The figures and medallions are by Girardon.

In two chapels opposite each other in the apse are the tombs of William and James Douglas, while the tomb of the Douglas family was in the chapel of Saint-Christophe. William Douglas, a prince of Scotland and illustrious warrior, died in 1611, in the service of Henri IV. James, his grandson, was killed in 1645, aged eighteen years, in a combat near Douai.

At the time of the Revolution the remains of Nicolas Boileau, Rene Descartes, Jean Mabillon, and Bernard de Montfaucon were piously gathered up and placed in safety at the Musee des Petits-Augustins, and after the suppression of this museum were deposited at Saint-Germaindes-Pres. Boileau reposed formerly in the Sainte-Chapelle, Descartes at Sainte-Genevieve, while the two savants—monks of this abbey—returned to their original resting places. The ashes of Mabillon, de Montfaucon, and Descartes with their inscriptions are in the second chapel of the apse, dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Boileau’s inscription has been erected in’ the Chapel of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.

The Chapelle Sainte-Genevieve is enriched by the two XIIIth century glass windows, reconstructed from the debris of the windows of the refectory. These represent Anne and Joachim, the Annunciation, the Marriage of the Virgin, and perhaps some of the Acts of Mercy. A panel or two has been remade.

The old high altar, remade in 1704, was completely destroyed. Six columns of cipolin marble which supported the baldaquin, brought from the ruins of a Roman city in Africa, in the reign of Louis XIV, have been erected in the picture galleries of the Louvre. This altar with its magnificent decorations was still in place in 1792.

A partial restoration of the church was under-taken in 1820, when ruin menaced the northern part, and at this time the belfrys of the transept were taken down. The present restoration was undertaken in 1845, when were added the poly-chrome decoration of the interior as we now see it and the Flandrin mural paintings.

The whole effect strikes one as curious and interesting rather than good, and the ensemble lacks harmony, though in parts it is both gorgeous and effective.

The wall panels throughout the nave and choir represent the greatest work of Hippolyte Flandrin and occupied the artist from 1842 to 1849. The earliest of the panels are those on the left side, as one faces the altar. The series rep-resents: Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem; four symbolic figures, Faith, Hope, Charity, and Patience; Saint-Germain accompanied by Doctrovee, the first abbot of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, receiving from Childebert and Ultrogothe the model of this basilica.

In 1843, before these panels were finished the city voted the funds for the decoration of the opposite side and these panels are: Jesus carrying his cross to Calvary; Justice, Prudence, Temperance, and Force; and Saint-Vincent, martyr, accompanied by Pope Alexander III, abbe Morard, Saint-Benoit, and King Robert. This subject refers to the consecration of the second church in 1163.

The decorations of the choir show the twelve apostles on a gold background, united by a poly-chrome decoration. At the back, upon the round-point is the Lamb of God, holding the world and the standard of triumph. About him are the four symbols of the evangelists, the eagle, the angel, the lion, and the winged bull. The modern windows of the church were also made from designs by Flandrin.