This church was an abbey church several centuries before it became a cathedral. The church is commemorated to Saint Denis, the first bishop of Paris, who was beheaded at Montmartre (Martyr's Mount) and according to tradition carried that head several miles before expiring. An earlier church was dedicated to his memory and a monastery has been at this location since the 7th century. As early as the 7th century some French kings chose to be buried at this spot and by the 8th century the Carolingian kings were choosing this abbey church for both coronation and burial. Finally, by 996 and until the French Revolution most of the kings of France were buried here. Just prior to and during the French Revolution, much damage was done to the church and the royal tombs were destroyed and their corpses thrown into a communal pit. But in 1805 Napoleon decided to restore the church and to have brought back to the church what remained of the royal tombs as well as sculpture and stained glass.
Introduction to the Basilica (or Cathedral) of St. Denis, environs of Paris
Index to the Images of the Basilica (or Cathedral) of St. Denis, environs of Paris
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© 2007 Mary Ann Sullivan.
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