The history of the Mount of Martyrs (Montmartre) is centered on this place of which the following are the key points : From Ste Genevieve, who lived in the Vth century, we know of the existence of St Denys. It is through her that the 1st bishop of Paris appears in history, because it is related in a contemporary life of saint Genevieve that about 475 she persuaded the people of Paris to erect a chapel on the spot where he was martyred. The story of St Denys, the 1st bishop of Paris, illustrates the period in which the disciples of Christ triumphed " not in battle but in death ".
The early chapel built on the hill in honour of St Denys fell into disrepair in the IXth century. It was then rebuilt, Montmartre being a very popular place of pilgrimage. Besides St Denys's, the remains of a large number of anonymous Christian martyred during the persecutions were venerated ; This helped to give the " hill of martyrs " its name.
Later on, an Abbey was built on the top of the hill. Yet,
In 1559, fire destroyed most of the Benedictine Abbey of Montmartre, and things
went then from bad to worse
until, in 1611, Marie de Beauvilliers - who presided over the Abbey for 60
years - decided to restore the martyrium, which was just down the hill. A
new Abbey was built around the chapel - called " the church down the hill
". It was joined to the upper Abbey by a long vaultred passage way.
During the works, on July 11 1611, they uncovered a staircase leading to the former crypt, said to have been sanctified by St Denys. This discovery attracted great attention. Marie de Médicis and more than sixty thousand people came to the spot creating a new wave of devotion.
At the end of the XIVth century, King Charles the VIth after the temporary cured of his first attack of madness and after miraculously escaping a fire, performed a pilgrimage of thanksgiving to the Martyrium.
At the beginning of the XVth century, in Paris, the war between the Armagnacs and the Burgondians produce such scenes of throat-cutting and looting that the parishes of Paris went in procession up the hill of Montmartre to beg St Denys to save the capital.
In 1525 , when François the Ist was captured at the battle of Pavie ,the people of Paris went in crowd to Montmartre to pray the patron saint of the Kingdom to bring the misery to an end.
On august 15, 1534, St Ignatius of Loyola, St François-Xavier and their companions founded the Company of Jesus.
Voeu de Montmartre des premiers Jésuites
(chapelle de Saint-Ignace)
The Abbey of Montmartre has for centuries been a center of intense religious life, and a popular place of pilgrimage.
In 1792, the Benedictines were dispersed by the Revolution and the Abbey was destroyed to the ground. The last abbess Marie-Louise de Montmorency-Laval went to the scaffold on July 24, 1794 and her blood was the seed of the miraculous revival of religion 80 years later on the sacred hill.
All what now remains of the Abbey of the Dames of Montmartre is St Peter's church (église St Pierre) of which the choir served as the nuns'chapel.