The Basilica of Saint Denis in Paris is the final resting place of French queens and kings. This beautiful Basilica gets the name from the cemetery on which it was constructed, which holds Saint Denis’s tomb. He was allegedly Paris’s bishop and France’s patron saint. Legend has it that Romans beheaded him before sainthood on the Montmartre hill, and that he walked with his head in the hand from the top to downhill.
Saint Denis Basilica is also a cathedral. Generally, the status of a basilica is accredited to a big and important church, which has been given rites of a ceremonial nature by the Pope. It may or may not be a cathedral. While a basilica’s status will remain to be so forever, the same is not applicable to the latter.
The Queens and Kings of France
For many centuries, the Basilica was the final resting place of queens and kings who sought Saint Denis’ eternal protection. Therefore, it is also called “France’s Royal Necropolis”. Much difficulty went into making sure that just about all French monarchs from the 10th Century until the 18th Century were not laid to rest in the Basilica’s site. They were Louis I of France, Louis II of France, and Louis XI of France. The mortal remains of other French kings, who were actually laid elsewhere, like that of Clovis I, were exhumed and then moved to here.
The French Revolution
During the revolution, the Saint Denis Basilica became a target. Under revolutionary officials’ orders, workers destroyed statues and tombs and left the church. The monarchs’ mortal remains and those of their families were exhumed and then dumped in pits nearby them. During the 19th Century mid, the French architect named Viollet-le-Duc worked on this monument’s restoration and returned it to its actual glory.
The Reburial of Queens and Kings
During Louis XVIII’s reign, many of the corpses were found from mass graves and they were placed inside an ossuary within the vault. You can find plaques with each monarch’s name in Saint Denis Basilica.
Much of the beauty of the Basilica comes from the abbot of Saint Denis named Suger. He was a statesman who reconstructed the abbey into an early Gothic Art masterpiece. Suger’s reconstruction and fresh architectural techniques lead to the Rose-tinted windows as well as cross-ribbed crypt, which bathe the structure in light.