Jan 30, 2010

A monk-assassin named Silas pays a visit to Saint-Sulpice, based on instructions Saunière revealed to Silas at gunpoint in the Louvre. The monk searches for a keystone believed to unlock the secret of the Holy Grail.( in chapter 19 and 22 of the book of The Da Vinci Code). That day I went to Saint Sulpice Church (Église Saint Sulpice). Located at rue St-Sulpice, 6 th arrondissement, was founded by the Society of St-Sulpice to replace a small gothic church.

The construction began in 1646, the west front was designed by the Florentine architect Giovanni Servandoni until 1766. The north tower was built by Chalgrin in 1778-80, but construction was abandoned before the south tower was completed. The facade is austere for a Baroque edifice and has a slightly lopsided appearance, as the south tower was never finished (the north tower rises to 73m; the south to 68m). The open colonaddes looks like a cut-out from the Roman Colosseum. The most attractions of St-Sulpice are in the Chapelle des Anges (Chapel of the Angels) by Delacroix frescoes (1855-61), on the right inside the entrance. Subjects include Jacob wrestling with the angel, St. Michael defeating the devil, and Heliodorus being driven from the temple. More of the artist's work can be seen at Paris' Musée Delacroix. Another masterpiece of St-Sulpice is Servandoni's Rococo Chapelle de la Madone, with a Pigalle statue of the Virgin.

The interesting thing’s the meridian line or gnomon, a narrow brass strip that the monk uses as a reference point in his quest for the Grail. Look for one end near the middle of the nave on the right side, near a stone statue with a Latin inscription. From there, it runs north across the nave and transept to an obelisk next to the statue of St. Peter. It is a fascinating astronomical instrument of the 18th century, used to study the planets and determine the date of Easter each year. The sun's rays enter the church through a small opening in the south transept and rest on the line at various points throughout the year. On the winter solstice, the rays hit the obelisk; on the spring and autumn equinoxes, the bronze table. The obelisk bears a Latin inscription that doesn't quote Job, but describes the use of the meridian line.

How interesting church!

Station on Paris metro: St Sulpice