The Sainte-Geneviève Chapel

Annexed in 1724

To the left of the main nave, a chapel is dedicated to the patron of Paris, Saint Genevieve. The faithful invoked her to be protected from famines. This chapel was annexed to the church in 1724.


The Only Work that Survived the Siege of 1759

In the interior decor of the Sainte-Geneviève chapel, only the tabernacle survived the bombing of 1759. This work by François-Noël Levasseur dates back to 1720.


A Few Components of the Chapel

The Monstrance

The monstrance is an item of precious metalwork, in the shape of a crystal cylinder, designed to show or display to the faithful the consecrated host, the forerunner to the ostensorium. The sculpted side panels represent the Archangel Gabriel (to the left) and the Virgin Mary kneeling (to the right), representing the scene of the Annunciation. You can see the volutes with foliage, which soften the sides of this level.

The Predella

The predella are the candle benches where the altar candlesticks are, next to which is the tabernacle containing the ciborium, an ecclesiastical plate including the consecrated host for the communion of the faithful. On this small cabinet's locking door, is sculpted the figure of the Child Jesus holding the cross with his left hand and blessing with his right hand.


A Recumbent Effigy Representing Christ

Sainte-Geneviève chapel, around 1900 (BAnQ, J.E. Livernois, Public domain).

A glass panel closes the tomb of the altar exposing a recumbent effigy representing Christ.

The painting hung on the wall above the tabernacle probably dates from the same time as the sculpture of the liturgical object entitled Saint Genevieve.


The Ex-voto

The ex-voto are plaques that are placed in a church or a chapel following the fulfillment of a vow or as a show of gratitude. These marble plaques are almost all affixed to the wall to the left of the Sainte-Geneviève chapel, all engraved in the 20th century (from 1923 to 1971).

Prie-Dieu

The hearts contain paper sheets signed by many donators. In front of the altar, you can see a prie-Dieu that makes it possible to meditate by invoking Saint Genevieve.

Votive candles

In front of the altar, lighting a votive candle is also a demonstration of a believer's faith in God. It also makes it possible to honor the memory of a loved one.


Why do we invoke Saint Genevieve?

Painting of Saint Genevieve (by Sister Marie-de-l'Eucharistie, 1917, Public domain).

Since the fifth century, the saint, who is celebrated on January 3rd, is invoked against famine, the plague, the fever, and for the healing of the kings. She is asked to make it rain during droughts or to stop it during humid weather. In addition to being Parisiorum patrona (patron of the Parisians), Saint Genevieve is the patron of the votive candle manufacturers or chandlers, as well as shepherds.


About Genevieve

Genevieve was born in around 422 A.D. in Nanterre, in the Parisian suburbs. She spent her entire existence in the northern part of Gaul at a very turbulent time in the history of Europe. She died in around 502, at about 80 years old.

She was born into a well-off Christian family. An only daughter, she soon became an orphan and inherited important property in the region of Meaux, near Paris. Therefore, she left Nanterre and moved to Paris at her godmother's place.

A model of courage

The high level of Genevieve's social status and public responsibilities was confirmed by her exceptional prestige amongst her fellow citizens and her contemporaries. She was part of the municipal officials of the city with the associated rights and duties. She was a model of political courage and municipal commitment to ensuring the well-being of her fellow citizens.

When she died, the King of the Franks had her buried in a church built on a hill in Paris that was later renamed Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. That is how she became the patron saint of the city of Paris and France.


The Legendary Story of the « petits pains » of Saint Genevieve

In around 480 A.D., while Paris was under siege with its funding cut off, Saint Genevieve had boats chartered with convoys of wheat and flour to feed the citizens.

Genevieve was the only daughter of a Gallo-Roman aristocratic family. Back then, her parents were rich landowners who had vast domains around Paris.


Facing Starvation

The military problems in the region exposed many Parisians to starvation since the regular supply lines were seriously disrupted. This situation became unbearable, which caused Genevieve to requisition a flotilla of boats on the Seine on one hand, and then to requisition harvests in Champagne on the other hand.

Genevieve had the wheat transported and baked the bread at the city's expense, bread that she offered for sale for those who could pay and that was distributed for free to the poor by her assistants. That is how the story of Saint Genevieve's rolls.


In Memory

Rue des Pains-Bénis (Wikimedia, by Jean Gagnon, 2021).

The small street that runs alongside one of the church's walls is named rue des Pains-Bénits. It refers to a tradition about rolls that were blessed in the side chapel dedicated to Saint Genevieve, at the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church. This blessing takes place annually, on January 3rd, on this Saint's birthday, patron of Paris. The rolls of Saint Genevieve would protect Christian mothers and those who are unemployed workers.

Urn and Invocations

In the Sainte-Geneviève chapel, there is an acrylic urn containing Ziploc bags with 2 rolls inside. They were baked by volunteers after the rolls dried for 3 weeks. Since blessed objects cannot be sold, it is suggested to take one and make a donation.

Extract of
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires - The Oldest Church in Quebec

Notre-Dame-des-Victoires - The Oldest Church in Quebec image circuit

Presented by : Paroisse Notre-Dame de Québec
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