Novembrer 16, 2022
Badly damaged by fire in 2019, Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris will reopen in time for the city’s turn hosting the Summer Olympics in 2024, French government officials insist. But even with its most famous church out of commission, Paris remains an unrivaled locus of sacred splendors. Any doubts about that will be quickly dispelled with a look at Churches of Paris (ACC Art Books; $60), a gorgeous compendium of 37 houses of worship across the French capital.
Writer-photographer Peggy Shannon spent 6 years researching the book, gathering insights from historians, clergy members, administrators, and tour guides to tell the stories, as NPR’s Scott Simon puts it in an introduction, “of how human hands and hearts have built (and sometimes looted and desecrated), and keep on reimagining and rebuilding” these world-famous as well as lesser-known structures spanning the 12th to the 19th centuries.
Accompanying the text are Shannon’s ravishing photos of dazzling stained-glass windows, imposing stonework, intricate wood carvings, and intriguing details such as altarpieces, statues, relics, and paintings. Whether religious or not, readers can’t help but feel the majesty and the mystery of these spaces that put the holy in holy moly.
Scroll on to see a selection of some of our favorite images from the book.
Pictured above: Saint-Eugène-Sainte-Cécile Church in the 9th arrondissement