Date: 1248
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): France
Description: The Sainte-Chapelle (Holy Chapel) in Paris was commissioned by King Louis IX (r. 1226–70) to house relics of the Passion that he purchased in 1239 from his cousin, the king of Constantinople (during the Latin Kingdom), who had pawned them to the Venetians. With his acquisition of the crown of thorns and other relics, Louis hoped to make Paris a new Jerusalem.

The Sainte-Chapelle was a monumental reliquary attached to the royal palace; its lower level served as the parish church for the palace staff. The upper chapel is remarkable for the abundance of stained glass, over 1100 glass panels in tall lancet windows; the walls have almost disappeared. Thin walls, spiky pinnacles, steep gables, and radiating tracery are components of the rayonnant style widely used in Paris at that time. The lower zones were richly embellished with polychromy, enamel, and sculptures of the apostles.

When the relics were displayed in their elevated shrine, viewers facing east would see the actual crown of thorns and, behind it, Christ wearing the crown in the central Passion window. The great shrine was melted down during the French Revolution, when the crown of thorns and other relics were moved to the cathedral of Notre Dame (they were saved from the fire there in 2019, along with the tunic of St. Louis). Additional relics and altar implements were kept in the three-story sacristy and treasury originally attached to the north side of the Sainte-Chapelle apse.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 8
Image Credits: Navid Jamali; Wikimedia Commons

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Sainte-Chapelle, plan and section Sainte-Chapelle, west facade Sainte-Chapelle, north exterior Sainte-Chapelle, upper chapel, view east Sainte-Chapelle, upper chapel, detail of Passion window in apse