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France and the Cult of the Sacred Heart

France and the Cult of the Sacred Heart: An Epic Tale for Modern Times

RAYMOND JONAS
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: 1
Pages: 323
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pn6nk
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  • Book Info
    France and the Cult of the Sacred Heart
    Book Description:

    In a richly layered and beautifully illustrated narrative, Raymond Jonas tells the fascinating and surprisingly little-known story of the Sacré-Coeur, or Sacred Heart. The highest point in Paris and a celebrated tourist destination, the white-domed basilica of Sacré-Coeur on Montmartre is a key monument both to French Catholicism and to French national identity. Jonas masterfully reconstructs the history of the devotion responsible for the basilica, beginning with the apparition of the Sacred Heart to Marguerite Marie Alacoque in the seventeenth century, through the French Revolution and its aftermath, to the construction of the monumental church that has loomed over Paris since the end of the nineteenth century. Jonas focuses on key moments in the development of the cult: the founding apparition, its invocation during the plague of Marseilles, its adaptation as a royalist symbol during the French Revolution, and its elevation to a central position in Catholic devotional and political life in the crisis surrounding the Franco-Prussian War. He draws on a wealth of archival sources to produce a learned yet accessible narrative that encompasses a remarkable sweep of French politics, history, architecture, and art.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92401-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. XIII-XVI)
  5. AN EPIC TALE FOR MODERN TIMES: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    On one of my first visits to Paris, a solicitous friend—who also happens to be a distinguished historian of modern France—graciously took me on a tour of historic sites around the city. Montmartre was on our itinerary and we reached it as most tourists do, by leaving the Métro at Anvers, walking northward to the Place Saint-Pierre, then ascending the steep stairway to the basilica of the Sacré-Coeur. As we ascended Montmartre, the basilica and its domes gradually appeared, rising above the crest of the hill, their details taking shape through the brown haze of a Parisian summer...

  6. THE SACRED HEART VISITS THE CHAROLLAIS
    (pp. 9-33)

    Deep in the charollais at Paray-le-Monial, west of Lyon and not far from Cluny, a ceremony was about to begin. A saintly body was to undergo final preparations for public display and veneration. This was France of the Second Empire, the year was 1865, but the ceremonial dressing of the body manifested an attention to ritual detail worthy of the Middle Ages.

    Monsignor Bouange, vicar general of the diocese of Autun, carried out an inventory of the remains. Beside and behind him, officers of the Catholic Church looked on with the attentiveness of medical students in a surgical theater. Bouange’s...

  7. PREFIGURATION: MARSEILLE AND THE SACRED HEART
    (pp. 34-53)

    The merchant vesselGrand Saint-Antoineslipped into the harbor of Marseille in June of 1720. TheSaint-Antoinehad made ports of call throughout the eastern Mediterranean. It carried a rich cargo of cotton and silk, but its most important passenger was the plague.

    Plague was no stranger to the city of Marseille. InSatyricon, Petronius states that even in the days before the arrival of Caesar, the people of Marseille had a well-established procedure for warding off the plague. It began with the selection of a “volunteer”—a young male, a boy—from among the poor of the city. For...

  8. THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, CATHOLIC ANXIETIES, AND THE SACRED HEART
    (pp. 54-90)

    In march of 1793, the fourth year of the French Revolution, some five thousand peasants assembled and marched on the town of la Roche-Bernard, near Vannes on the Vilaine River. They were armed, though poorly. Some carried muskets or pistols. Most carried simpler weapons, including pikes and farm implements. They shared the conviction that after nearly four years, it was time to face the fact that the Revolution of 1789 had gone badly wrong. It was pointless to think of marching on Paris, which was days away from them in any case. They had before them a handier target and...

  9. THE SACRED HEART AND THE COUNTER-REVOLUTION IN THE VENDÉE
    (pp. 91-117)

    Imagine a chilly february day in Paris. The king of France, Louis XVI, and the queen, Marie-Antoinette, have planned a visit to Notre-Dame cathedral. The year is 1790. The French Revolution is not yet a year old, but since October of 1789 the royal family has lived at the Tuileries Palace in Paris, not at Versailles. Indeed, the family had been forcibly moved from Versailles by an enraged crowd of market women from the city of Paris. Ever since, and despite public protestations to the contrary, the king and queen have felt trapped, forced to live in a city that...

  10. THE SACRED HEART AND THE RETURN OF KINGS
    (pp. 118-146)

    When the brother of Louis XVI returned to France as Louis XVIII and head of the restored Bourbon monarchy, he knew that his monarchy must be founded on reconciliation, not revenge. By April of 1814, his brother’s death by execution, while still a signal event in the nation’s history and a matter of living memory for thousands, took its place among other spectacular moments in twenty-five years of revolutionary and Napoleonic rule. The Charter of 1814, which would provide the written basis for royal authority over the next thirty-four years, recognized basic civil liberties and created a bicameral legislature. It...

  11. ROME, WAR, AND THE ONSET OF THE TERRIBLE YEAR
    (pp. 147-176)

    There are moments in the life of a nation where the hand of God is clearly visible—or so it seems. The years 1870 and 1871 provided many such moments, notably when France went to war against Germany and suffered defeat, invasion, and occupation on a scale surpassed only in 1940. In fact, the period spanning the declaration of war in July 1870 through the repression of the Commune in May 1871 was of such unsurpassed horror that it was immediately identified as theannée terrible, the Terrible Year.

    Theannée terribleinitiated a period of intense reflection on France,...

  12. BUILDING THE CHURCH OF THE NATIONAL VOW
    (pp. 177-197)

    “What do these stones mean?” What indeed? The typical visitor to Paris in the late twentieth century makes an obligatory visit to Montmartre and the basilica of Sacré-Coeur. The exotic, white-domed church ranks just after Notre-Dame, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe among the top five tourist destinations in the city of Paris. But its meaning to a typical tourist is by no means clear. Thousands of visitors to the Sacré-Coeur enjoy the view back toward Paris, but that view does not depend on the church. Most tourists do venture to enter the church, but probably with little sense...

  13. A MODERN MAGDALENE SEEKS FORGIVENESS
    (pp. 198-223)

    No less than medieval Christianity, French Catholicism in the nineteenth century was an intensely visual faith. The devotion to the Sacré-Coeur added many powerful images to an already rich repertoire. One such image expressed the penitential and patriotic intentions of the project to build the Church of the National Vow to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (fig. 37); it represents France as a penitent, on her knees before Jesus, while Mary consoles her. At the feet of the weeping figure are the broken symbols of power: a sword, a scepter, and a crown. In her hands is a model of...

  14. A VISION CAPTURED IN MOSAIC
    (pp. 224-244)

    High above the choir of the Sacré-Coeur of Montmartre, a triumphant figure of the Sacré-Coeur looks down into the nave of the basilica. He stands before a throne, his arms outstretched, his heart visible on his chest. To his right and to his left, phalanxes of figures stand in poses of adoration. It is the apotheosis of the Sacré-Coeur, both of the church and of the devotion.

    At the same time that ownership of the Sacré-Coeur of Montmartre was passing to the city of Paris, plans were going forward for what would be the main work of art within the...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 245-276)
  16. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 277-302)
  17. INDEX
    (pp. 303-308)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 309-310)