The Temple de l’Oratoire

This reformed temple of the French Protestant united Church is the most historically vibrant one in Paris.

  • Temple of the Oratory © Fondation bersier (Thibault Godin 2016)
  • Autour de l'Oratoire du Louvre
    Around the Oratoire du Louvre © Fondation Bersier (Thibault Godin 2016)

The monument was erected on a levelled wall of Philippe Auguste’s outer wall. It was originally a chapel for the Oratoire congregation founded by the Cardinal de Bérulle in 1611. The plans were draughted by the architect Clément Métezeau and then taken over by Jacques Lemercier. The foundation stone was laid on 22 September 1621.

The project was delayed in 1623 when the superintendent of buildings wanted to forbid its erection to preserve a former project to extend the Louvre all the way to the rue Saint-Honoré. In 1625 the project was stopped because the plot on the rue Saint-Honoré with two houses was still not available.

On the outside the Church looks like a big rather narrow and very high ship’s hull covered with a three-storey high attic. Two stone turrets house a spiral staircase leading to the gallery and the attic. An oval chapel leans against the apse.

In 1642 and 1643 the funerals of Cardinal de Richelieu and of Louis XIII, as well as of Anne d’Autriche in 1666 were celebrated in the Oratoire. The nave was completed only in 1740 and the main portal put together in 1745. In 1793 the Church was ransacked, looted, and then became a lecture room. Theatre sets were stored in it too.

The Church was made available to Reformed worship by Napoleon in 1811. The first service was presided over by Paul-Henri Marron. Then the interior was completely rearranged for Protestant worship.

The woodwork was transferred from the former Saint-Louis du Louvre Church appointed to Reformed worship between 1790 and 1811, and then pulled down.

The main vestry is located in the lower room of the oval chapel where an entresol was added in 1821. You can see there the busts of the first five pastors, as well as panels to commemorate Parisian Protestantism.

There are also several memorial plaques, an impressive one with the names of those lost in action between 1914 and 1918, and the other an homage to American soldiers of World War I.

Two people at the Oratoire received the medal of the Righteous among the Nations, namely the pastor Paul Vergara and Marcelle Guillemot, still alive, a social worker with the social aid association in a district called La Clairière (The Clearing).

The seating consists of chairs facing the pulpit set up in the middle of the nave on the eastern side of the building. Benches are assigned to parish councillors and deacons.

The present Gonzalez organ dated 1962 has 67 stops, which enables it to accompany the liturgy during the service and to play organ music of all eras.

In 1802, in application of the Organic Articles, the Reformed Consistorial Church of Paris was created; its responsibility overflowed the Island of France. The Church is led by an assembly, the Consistory of Paris, whose seat comes to the Oratory when the building is assigned to the reformed. All pastors are attached to the Consistory.

After 1860 several suburban cities were absorbed into Paris and five unofficial parishes were established, each with an appointed pastor. Sermons at the Oratoire, however, are considered superior to other Parisian temples.

The consistory Church of Paris was split into eight Reformed parishes in Paris. In 1905 the law on the separation of the Churches and State abrogated the Concordat system. The second half of the 19th century was marked by the opposition between the Orthodox and liberal Reformed, but a schism was avoided

  • Temple de l'Oratoire - Statue de Gaspard de Coligny
    The temple de l'Oratoire - Statue of Gaspard de Coligny © Fondation Bersier (Thibault Godin - 2016)

In 2011 the Église de l’Oratoire solemnly celebrated its 200th anniversary. In 2013 it became the Protestant united Church of the Oratoire, and is one of the main Protestant parishes in Paris. It is very much alive and belongs to the liberal Reformed tradition and people attend from afar. parishioners. It also holds lectures and spiritual concerts.

It has an outstanding website, enabling you to leisurely further your visit.

On the rue de Rivoli, leaning on the oval building of the former chapel stands the monument to the memory of Admiral de Coligny, murdered during the Saint Bartholomew massacre on 24 August 1572. The monument was erected thanks to a national fundraising campaign in 1889. It combines the work of the sculptor Crauck and of the architect Scellier de Gisors. Gaspard de Coligny stands in front of a window frame referring to his defenestration after he was murdered.

 

On the pedestal is an open Bible. On one side of the pedestal one can see the Homeland crowned after winning the Saint-Quentin battle in 1551 against Philip II of Spain, and on the other the Church in mourning attire. Queens of the Netherlands, Wilhelmine in 1912, and Juliana in 1948 and 1972 came and bowed to the statue of their ancestor Coligny.

The Temple de l’Oratoire

143 Rue Saint Honoré, 75001 Paris, France

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