For lovers visiting Paris, Sacré-Coeur looks like the Taj-Mahal.
For practising Catholics, it is an important pilgrimage
Either way, it is the Paris second most visited church after Notre-Dame cathedral.
Officially, the construction of the basilica is linked with a national vow made in December 1870 after the defeat against Prussia and for having Paris be delivered from the Prussians army.
More contested is the choice of the hill of Montmartre as the location for the basilica, as for many it would have been linked with the will to establish a “moral order” after the Paris Commune events
which were precisely initiated at Montmartre, March, 18, 1871. A revolt started there when the French army came to get the cannons back. Rapidly the revolt was spread in Paris to other popular districts.
The Chief executive Thiers and his government who left Paris and set in Versailles was joined back by Parisians from wealthy districts. The political turmoil was being increasing and finally after the Commune was proclaimed,
get organized. On its side, the army led by Thiers went into action and May, 21, the army entered Paris. This began the “bloody
week”, which terminated the Commune in a terrible oppression. During this week, many Parisian buildings were burned out and destroyed like the town Hall and the Tuileries Palace.
On May 1873, Mac-Mahon's government enforced public morality and against
this background of “moral order” the National Assembly passed a law July, 23, 1873 to build a basilica devoted to the Sacred Heart on the hill of Montmartre.
The writer Emile Zola reacted to the moral order and the national vow in 1893 in his trilogy: The three cities: Paris. One of the characters of the novel,
Guillaume Clément is expressing his discontent:
"Ah! they chose a good site for it, and how stupid it was to let them do so! I know of nothing more nonsensical; Paris crowned and dominated by that temple of idolatry! How impudent it is, what a buffet for the cause of reason after so many centuries
of science, labour, and battle!"
For Henry Miller, the American writer who wrote in his autobiographical novel Black Spring that “it doesn't matter a damn whether the
world is going to the dogs or not; it doesn't matter whether the world is right or wrong, good or bad.” the Sacré-Cœur church far from raising political issues
was rather suggesting an erotic figure:
“And then suddenly, presto! All is changed. Suddenly the street opens wide its jaws and there, like a still white dream, like a dream embedded in stone, the Sacré Coeur rises up. A late afternoon and the heavy whiteness of it is stifling. A heavy, somnolent whiteness, like the belly of a jaded woman. Back and forth the blood
ebbs, the contours rounded with soft light, the huge, billowy cupolas taut as savage teats. “
Now let's take rue des Saules on our left.