Le Havre, World Heritage Site

Outside view of Saint-Michel's Church.

Saint – Michel’s church

Less monumental than Saint-Joseph’s church, Saint-Michel’s deserves a visit for the sake of its unusual shape and the stained-glass windows by the Boutzen workshop. The church was built on the same site as the previous one which dated back to 1661. It was finished building in 1964.

Le Havre born architect Henri Colboc built Saint-Michel church. Both architect and urbanist, he had received a Second Rome Prize for architecture.

Outside the church on the square, the belfry stands outside the church, 47 metres high. Seen from up high, the church roof looks like an open book and the belfry is the symbol of a church candle. The church stands in the middle of a large paved square.

Inside the church, the beautiful high stained-glass windows were made by master glazier Boutzen. An unusual artefact is also kept inside the church: a stone from the old pre-war Town Hall.

The church also houses an electroplated statue: “The Silver Virgin”, made to fulfil a vow, wishing the town to be spared occupation by the Prussians in 1870. Along with the statue are vestments, a monstrance, gift supposedly from Napoleon III, and a black granite altar matching the surrounding concrete.

The old church could not withstand the 1944 bombings: the belfry only remained standing and was brought down in 1945 by specialized sappers.

It waited more than 15 years to be rebuilt. The association for the reconstruction of churches and religious buildings was in charge, but construction depended on how the city’s reconstruction was moving forward. We learn that “the site for the church, more or less the same as the old one, was clustered with temporary constructions and it was out of the question to demolish those”.

The church was officially dedicated on 4th October 1964.

Slideshow

Inside Saint-Michel's Church.
Inside Saint-Michel's Church.
Inside Saint-Michel's Church.