La Madeleine Paris about 1892

THE MADELEINE PARIS — This noble building transports Greece to Paris. It is a splendid reproduction of a Greek Temple, the decorations of which are nevertheless decidedly Christian in their character. It is in reality the “Church of Mary Magdalene,” begun by Louis XV in 1764, and in the tympanum of the facade, in an immense relief portraying the Last Judgment, Mary Magdalene is represented as interceding with Christ for the condemned. As this building was still unfinished at the time of the French Revolution, Napoleon changed its design and transformed it into a “Temple of Glory,” where he intended that eulogies should be pronounced over the heroes of the Nation, and many of the grand deeds of the first Empire should be appropriately celebrated. But after the Man of Destiny had passed away from the stage of France, the original idea of this edifice was again adopted, and the magnificent structure is now a Christian church. It is a most imposing building, no less than 354 feet in length and 100 feet in height. Stately Corinthian columns with elaborate capitals entirely surround it like a faithful body guard; eighteen of them on either side, while sixteen constitute the lofty portico which fronts upon the Rue Royale and commencement of the Boulevards. There are no windows in this church, which is constructed exclusively of stone and receives its light through skylights in the roof. What wonder that so vast and beautiful a building should have cost more than two and a half millions of dollars! (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)


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