Mary of the Day (July 14) – OUR LADY OF PARIS, FRANCE
There does not seem to be a great deal of information about Our Lady of Paris; it is an ancient title, and can be traced well back before the 12th Century, when the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) was begun. Some authorities say that veneration of the Blessed Virgin in Paris can be traced to the first apostles of the city. Since Saint Paul was in Gaul (France) during his travels, it may be assumed that this veneration dates to the first century of the Christian era. And if Mary was venerated in Paris at that early date, it is possible that she was, even then, known as Our Lady of Paris. Briefly, as long as Christian minds can be remembered, Paris was consecrated to the Virgin Mary, whom the inhabitants always venerated.
It is known that Our Lady of Paris was a church first built by King Childebert in the year 522. About the year 1257, the King Saint Louis IX assisted in the construction of a larger church carried on in the same place, on the foundations which King Philip Augustus had laid in the year 1191. The older church built by King Childebert, which had been dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, had became too ruinous to be repaired, so Maurice, Bishop of Paris, decided to rebuild it and at the same time adorn Paris with a Cathedral that would outshine all those which had hitherto been built anywhere.
Plans were drawn up during the reign of King Louis VII, and work had actually begun on Notre Dame de Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral, in 1162. The cornerstone was laid in the presence of Pope Alexander III. Notre Dame is a huge Gothic cathedral on the Ile de la Cite, with beautiful flying buttresses to support the tremendous height of the walls, and are adorned with stylish gargoyles. It is home to a reliquary which contains Christ’s Crown of Thorn. By the beginning of the fourteenth century, perhaps 1345, the cathedral was finished, virtually as it stands today. Some time during the building of the Cathedral, a statue of Our Lady was fashioned and installed in place.
As was typical, the cathedral was desecrated during the French Revolution, and many of the religious artifacts were lost to future generations, although the incredible stain glass windows were not destroyed, including the spectacular “rose window” that can still be seen today. We pray that Mary may always protect France, the first daughter of the Church of his Son Jesus.