The basilica and the baptistry

It was in this Basilica that Louis and Zélie were married, Therese was baptised and Zélie’s funeral was held, so of special interest to the pilgrim

A little bit of history

Zélie was still at school when Monsieur Guérin, her father, retired with his family to the house in rue Saint-Blaise a few hundred metres from the Basilica. So she was a regular worshipper there before her marriage to Louis Martin. The ceremony took place on 13 July 1858 at midnight. Afterwards the newly-weds went to live at Louis’ watch-maker’s shop in the parish of Saint Pierre de Montsort.

It was not until 1871 that Louis, Zélie and their children came to live in the house in the rue Saint-Blaise and were once more parishioners of Notre-Dame. They attended the first mass at 5.30 every day, and Louis also attended the evening adoration of the Sacrament.

Therese was the only child to be born in this parish, and was baptised in the church of Notre Dame on 4 January 1873. The baptistery chapel was dedicated to St Therese of the Child Jesus following her canonisation in 1925. Louis Barillet’s window records the occasion.

Therese came to high mass with her family every Sunday. A painting by Céline shows us the child running alone in the rain to church.

It was in this church that Zélie’s funeral was held in 1877

A little bit of architecture

The building is in the shape of a roman cross, in three sections: the nave with the addition of 15C side-aisles and 16C side-chapels, the great porch dating from the beginning of the 16C and the sanctuary with transepts and retro choir which were rebuilt in the middle of the 18C.

At the end of the middle ages gothic architecture was at its most flamboyant. The porch is a model of the style, elegant, in ‘stone lace’. As the poet said “The church is so constructed that to place the Good Lord in the most beautiful part of it, He had to be banished to the door”.

In the same way the double flying buttresses and the balustrades at the base of the roof are finely sculpted.

Renaissance stained glass windows along the nave illustrate scenes from the Old Testament on the north side, the life of the Virgin on the south side.