For a long time, the hill of Montmartre has been a place of worship: according to the ancients, the origin of its name “Mont-Mars” is a Gallo-Roman Temple dedicated, to the Mercury God and the God of War, March. A christian cult after the legend of the martyrdom of Bishop Denis sent with two disciples, by Pope St. Clement, the successor of the apostle Peter, to build the first cathedral, preach to Parisians and convert them to Christianity. He was captured with his fellow-travellers by the Roman authorities. When questioned, they declared themselves Christians and were killed and beheaded.
In July 1870, Napoleon III declared war (Franco-German) on Prussia. Two months after an ill-prepared war, he was defeated and taken prisoner at Sedan on 02 September 1870. On September 3, the news was reached in Paris and sparked unrest. Riots broke out everywhere and the population to save the endangered Fatherland advanced to the Palais-Bourbon to demand the Republic. On September 4, 1870, the Third Republic was proclaimed and the end of the Second Empire.
After the victory at Sedan, the Prussian armies and their allies advanced and blocked Paris. They decided to avoid sending their troops into combat. They relied on weariness and hunger to secure the victory of Paris. Cut off from the rest of the country, with exceptional temperatures of -12°C, Parisians were starving and eating cats, dogs, rats, horses and elephants to survive. Deprived of wood, coal and without gas, to heat up, the mortality rate doubled in a few months, but there were no real epidemics.
It is God’s divine punishment, said the Church! The Archbishop of Paris, Mr. Guibert was suppoused to have had a divine vision during a visit to the Montmartre hill. He organized huge processions of faith and sent a letter on March 05, 1873 to the Minister of Cults to erect a Church to the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, recognized as a public utility and built exclusively with donations. After heated debates in the National Assembly, the law was passed on July 24, 1873, the project declared a public utility for the construction of a church on the hills of Montmartre.
Paul Abadie was the architect chosen by Charles Garnier, who is inspired by the Great Mosque of Istanbul, Sainte-Sophie. Construction of the Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre began in 1875 and work was officially completed in 1923.
Today, the Sacred Heart Basilica of Montmartre, after the Our Lady of Paris is the second religious monument in Paris and has more than 12 million pilgrims and visitors per year.