Saint Louis’ Sainte-Chapelle

Right in the heart of Paris, Saint Chapelle still stands as one of the most prestigious chapels since it’s consecration in 1248. Constructed with intention to house relics from the crucifixion, the king at the time, Louis IX knew there would be no better way to re-enforce the relationship between the monarchy and the church than a cathedral of this magnitude. Although, erected to glorify God, its construction was also very political. At the time the Holy Roman Empire was still forming and there was still varied conflict within the church; Louis saw this as a chance to create a space that was the center of Christendom as well as re-establish the connection of power between royalty and religion.

The church was constructed with two levels, that created a subtle distinction between the public and those in power. The lower level was for parish services for those of the palace, whereas the upper level was constructed to house the Holy relics. The upper level was much more intricate in design than the lower level, partly due to the fact that this would be where the Holy relics would be kept as well as this was the part of the chapel that was specifically designated for the King and his company. The upper levels walls were much higher than that of the lower level and the majority of them are covered in stained glass windows. Near the back of the apse on the upper level is the highly regarded reliquary that was presented to those who came to see it once a year on Good Friday. King Louis also incorporated   patterns of the fleur-de-lis as well as images of his mother Blanche de Castille throughout the castle to pay homage to his royal lineage. Regardless whether Louis’ intentions were more political than religious, what was created was one of the most detailed cathedrals of the time, that gives you the notion that you are a part of something even greater.


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