+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error


THE third of January is the feast of Sainte
Généviève, the patroness of Paris. On this
day commences a festival of nine days'
duration, called in Latin a Novena, and in French
a Neuvaine. The chief scene of the festival is
the quaint and little fantastical, and old
church of Saint Étienne du Mont. This
ancient church is an architectural curiosity.
I could fancy an architect building the front
of it as a sort of memorandum in miniature
of all the different styles and fashions of
ancient and mediaeval architecture. I could
fancy an architect exhibiting a model of it as
a proof and specimen of his ability to gratify
every form and fantasy of architectural
caprice. I am sure a professor might deliver
a course of lectures upon architecture without
any other illustrations than a daguerreotype
of the front of the church of Saint
Étienne du Mont. You may observe, sticking
up from the roof towards the left of the
queerest old church front, the queerest little
square tower you can imagine. This contains
a clock-dial, surmounted by a common lead-
covered belfry.

The tomb of Sainte Généviève is in this
little church of Saint Étienne du Mont. The
shrine of the saint is very much gilded, and
the tomb and chapel look very ancient.
There are many large and small pictures upon
the walls, and the tomb is covered with a
blaze of little tapers. Pilgrims crowd from
all the parishes and from all the environs
of Paris, to this shrine, from morning to
evening, every day, kneeling in prayer, counting
their beads, and lighting little tapers.
During the nine days, the pillars and interior
of the church are showily hung with blue and
white draperies.

Ever since the coup-d'état enabled President
Bonaparte to restore the Panthéon to the
clergy as the church of Sainte Généviève, the
chief festival of Paris has been celebrated with
continually increasing pomp and splendour.
The little church of Saint Étienne is at the
corner of the grand church of Sainte
Généviève, and the end of a broad paved
street or Place which separates the church
from the Library of Sainte Généviève.  This
magnificent temple is the only church in
Paris comparable to Saint Paul's Cathedral,
in London. Both the small old, and the large
new church, are used in the ceremonies of the
annual Parisian festival.

On Saturday, the third of January eighteen
hundred and fifty-seven, the Archbishop
of Paris presided over the opening
ceremonials of the Neuvaine. Vespers had been
chanted, and the sermon of the Abbé Lacarrière
was over. The procession of the ladies
of Sainte Généviève was walking round the
church. The canons in long white cloaks
with blue satin facings preceded the
Archbishop, the most conspicuous form in the
procession, with his golden mitre gleaming
in the light upon his head, and with his tall
gilded crozier in his hand, while a priest upon
each side of him supported his heavy pontifical
robes. He scattered his benedictions
before him. The procession was accomplishing
the second turn round the church; the
Archbishop having approached the bottom
of the nave, was in the act of blessing the
children, when a young man in a frock-coat
sprung up, his eyes darting fury, and, with a
long poignard-knife in his right hand. A lady
seized the knife with her left hand, but let go
on feeling it cut. The young man lifted up
the cape of the Archbishop, and instantaneously
plunged the knife deep into his
heart, crying aloud,— "Down with the

"Unhappy man!" ejaculated the prelate,
letting fall his crozier and falling backwards,
while his black eyes started as if out
of their sockets. He was dead in a moment.
The Abbé Surat caught the body in his arms,
and it was carried into the sacristy, where it
received a hasty absolution. At the instant
of the blow a loud shriek from an unknown
voice shook the dome of the church.

Meanwhile stupor seized the crowded
congregation; who were chiefly women. The
Curé of Saint Étienne du Mont, imagining that
the Archbishop had fainted from fatigue or
from a blow, endeavoured to calm their
consternation. The devotions proceeded for a
few minutes until a person coming out
of the sacristy said, "Monseigneur is dead."
Terror seized the congregation. A priest
was seen to take up and to turn the holy