In 1624, Lord of Reuilly Jean de Vitry gives a land to Saint Paul vicar Antoine Fayet so that he can build a chapel. Indeed, the closest church is rather far, and the religious authorities are worried about the absence of a parish in this popular neighborhood. In 1703, it’s done, and the building is ready to welcome the local faithful.
From the outside, Saint Marguerite looks quite plain, excluding its original steeple, a wooden belfry covered in slate. But the most interesting is found inside the church. In 1760, architect Victor Louis is entrusted with the creation of the Chapel of the Souls of Purgatory.
In it’s this very chapel we can find a sublime trompe-l’oeil, a neo-classic master piece by Italian artist Paolo Antonia Brunetti and French Gabriel Briard. A succession of columns, friezes and statues are painted to give a wonderful perspective effect to the chapel that looks bigger than it actually is.
Inside, the Church of Saint Marguerite still owns its cemetery, which is very rare for a church within Paris. During the French Revolution, the bodies of 300 guillotined people on the place de la Batille and Place de la Nation – not far from the church – have been buried there. But the most famous tomb remains, indisputably, Louis XVII’s. Well, what we thought it was.
Indeed, according to the legend, Louis XVII has been buried in the cemetery of the Church of Saint Marguerite after he died on June 10, 1795 at the Tower of the Temple. Yet, under the Restoration, Louis XVIII have an investigation conducted that lived on with the July Monarchy a few decades later. During the autopsy, it was shown that the body in the lead casket was a teenage boy aged between 15 and 18 years old while the young Louis XVII died younger, he was 10.
Despite the refutation, the tomb keeps on being decorated with flowers and a commemorative plaque “L’enfant mort au Donjon du Temple” [The child died at the Tower of the Temple] remains today!
36 Rue Saint-Bernard
75011 Paris 11