Saint Remi and His Basilica

The Baptism of Clovis by Master of Saint Giles - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.
The Baptism of Clovis by Master of Saint Giles – National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C.

The baptism of Clovis I, King of the Franks, by the Bishop of Reims, Saint Remi, was a pivotal event in the Christianization of the Franks. A few blocks from the Reims Cathedral is a basilica dedicated to the Saint. Our Cathedral Pilgrimage didn’t restrict us to visiting only “cathedrals,” a church as beautiful and old as the Basilique Saint-Remi is a must-see. A twenty-minute walk from our home base to visit the basilica was both worth it and enjoyable since Reims is such a lovely city.

The Basilica dates from the 11th century (with additions and modifications in the 12th, 13th, 15th, 17th, and 19th centuries) and is the largest Romanesque church in northern France. Because of the additions and modifications, it has a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles.

Basilica of Saint-Remi

As often happened, because our pilgrimage was during the off-season, the church was almost exclusively ours to explore with very few people around. In fact, outside the church, an American woman mistook me for a French person when I let her know in French how to enter the building (hey, I guess my language studies weren’t a total failure). I love that these churches are generally open to the public throughout the day. The opportunity to explore and reverently wander through medieval places of worship is sublime. The thick Romanesque walls and Gothic vaults of Saint Remi Basilica transport you back to a different world. Accent lighting periodically snapped on making the experience even more dramatic.

The tomb of Saint Remi is situated in the apse of the church while a monument commemorating the famous baptism stands in the courtyard outside.

Next to the Basilica is the former Saint Remi Abbey, now an archeology and art museum, complete with a cloister. The refectory is converted into a gallery displaying sculptures and mosaics.

Musée Saint-Remi – old refectory
Ancient Roman mosaic at the Musée Saint-Remi

Reims also has an Art-Deco library built with money from Andrew Carnegie who also financed the restoration of the Cathedral. Our short three-day visit to the unofficial capital of the Champagne region bubbled with experiences, and that’s without even sampling a drop of the patron beverage.

Carnegie Library of Reims – Art Deco goodness

Index of blog posts for our Cathedral Pilgrimage