Going to the Church of Saint Severin is like going back in time to the old Paris. To join the building, you have to walk small and sinuous streets of the 5th arrondissement. And the church in itself, reminds us of a bygone era, bathing in a medieval atmosphere with its square bell tower and its numerous gothic gargoyles.
Built in the Merovingian era, circa 650, in tribute to recluse monk Saint Severin, the Church of Saint Severin is the oldest church on the left bank. Destroyed by the Vikings, it’s built over again in the 13th century in a flamboyant gothic style still visible today.
Quickly, the Church of Saint Severin become the church for the students going to the Paris University created by Philippe Auguste in the late 12th century and the headquarters of their meetings. It also becomes the church for travelers because it’s set near the bridge joining the left bank to the Île de la Cité. A fire partially damaged it in 1448 but the church is nicely rebuilt afterwards.
During the French Revolution the Church of Saint Severin loses, like most churches, its status of cult place and is transformed into a powder storehouse, then a fodder storehouse and bells storehouse. Note that Macée, one of Paris oldest bells, melted in 1412, is still under the church bell tower!
During your visit don’t hesitate to take a walk in the garden that was already used in the 15th century as a cemetery for Parisian notables and thingummybobs. Archaeologists even found tracks of sarcophaguses from the Middle-Age proving the existence of a cemetery in situ even before the 15th century! Don’t miss either the double ambulatory and the beautiful twisted column inside the church.
And for the record, known that it’s in the cemetery of the Church of Saint Severin that in January 1474 the first surgery of the stone disease (kidney stones) took place. Louis XI endorsed the surgery and it’s on someone sentenced to death – who was promised to be released if the surgery was a success – that is was carried out. Successfully!
2 Rue des Prêtres Saint-Séverin
75005 Paris 5