Sainte Chapelle, Paris

St chapelle altarI have loved this chapel since the first time I saw it, years ago. As I remember, they were working on Notre Dame at the time and I didn’t feel any spirit there. But here, wow. Of course, I have always loved the Medieval period.

The famous part of the Chapel is upstairs. (Ignore the keyboard set up under the altar – there was a concert in the evening). It’s all glass, consecrated in 1248. I once described in a short story:

Its beauty was legendary. The walls, if walls they were, lifted colored glass entire. Burnished red, deep sleepy green, blue the color of the sky behind a rising moon, joyous gold. Brilliant colors set in black, forming pictures of ancient holy stories, of long-dead nobles and their wives, of kneeling animals. She visited daily, pondering the lives of the men who now lived only in glass. She understood the artists’ visions as gifts to the Lord.Ste Chapelle King's entrance

This being a King’s chapel, the upstairs was reserved mostly for him. Peons worshiped downstairs. The King had an entrance from his bedroom so he could pray when his sins seemed overwhelming. It was Louis IX, Saint Louis, so you know he went often. It’s interesting to think that he saw the beauty as an indication of God’s power and the story of faith. I, myself, see it as homage to those who created it, without any modern tools. It is astonishing however you view it.stained glass

The ceiling alone will make you think of heaven…


Downstairs is darker than up (I secretly call it the basement) but no less glorious. Actually, it’s my favorite part. The details, the colors, the statues – all capture my attention.

saint pillarSt chapelle basement











I’ll note that there was a long line to  get in — and it was only the end of April — and we were happy to have the museum pass which made it a little faster. That said, it was totally worth the time.

We’ll close with an angelic detail from the altar.

St chapelle detail



  1. Beautiful! I’m amazed at what the artists were able to accomplish so long ago. I don’t think we’re making anything so gorgeous any more.

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