The Temple de l’Etoile

During the 19th century Paris spread to the West, especially into the Passy, Auteuil, Batignolles and Porte Maillot districts. Several Temples were built and attest to the revival of Protestantism in the capital city.

One of the most interesting architectural exemples is the Temple de l’Etoile in Paris. It was built in 1874 on the initiative of the pastor Eugène Bersier, a great preacher and instigator of a new liturgy.

  • Temple de l’Etoile
    The Temple de l’Etoile © Fondation Bersier (Thibault Godin 2016)
  • Temple de l’Etoile - La chaire et la table de communion
    The Temple de l’Etoile © Fondation Bersier (Thibault Godin 2016)

In 1866 the avenue de la Grande Armée was no more than a large wilderness with beautiful trees, and with plots for sale. Eugène Bersier, who was born in 1831 and died in 1889, was the pastor of the Free Chapel on the rue Taitbout. He wished to settle down with his family in the countryside and moved to boulevard Pereire in the only existing house, and chaired evening meetings in Neuilly. In 1869 he rented and furnished a larger room. The community met there and became independent from the Chapelle Taitbout in 1873.

Already by the end of 1869, the Steering Committee founded by Eugène Bersier had decided to build a temple on the land adjacent to the hall it occupies, but the Franco-Prussian war broke out and it was not until 1873 that an anonymous society constituted by parishioners, raised the necessary funds for the purchase of the land and the construction of the temple. The Swedish architect, Hansen conceived a project in an anglican neo-gothic style that was very fashionable at the time. The temple was inaugurated in 1874. The following year the temple was endowed with an organ built by Cavaillé-Coll, the great organ maker who built the instruments of Notre Dame and Saint Suplice.

The main entrance is topped by a gable and then a rosette crowned with a pediment supporting a cross. Steeples and lanterns complete the whole.

The old doors were replaced by glass doors.

The newly renovated interior is classical, a large nave and two transepts, five stained glass windows are on each side of the nave; the choir ceiling is a blue dotted with stars. In the choir there is a massive pulpit which bears a plaque in memory of the pastor Bersier.

The Eglise de l’Etoile joined the Reformed Church of Paris in 1877. But the inscription « Evangelical Church de l’Etoile » still remains on the lintel over the main entrance. This inscription, surprising in a reformed church, dates from the construction of the temple as a Free Church.

Today the United Protestant Church of l’Etoile is a lively reformed parish church that holds the record for the number of baptisms.

 

The Temple de l’Etoile

56 Avenue de la Grande-Armée, 75017 Paris, France

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