Saint-Sulpice is just a stroll from my summer home in the Luxembourg Gardens. It is the second largest church in Paris. The present church was built in the 17th century over the foundations of an earlier Romanesque building. The construction continued over the next 140 years and the unusual façade was built in the height of the Rococo era. The church gained enormous notoriety due to the Dan Brown book and subsequent movie The DaVinci Code. Unfortunately, the information in the book was not historically accurate, but based on a 20th century hoax by Pierre Plantard through which he claimed to be the heir to the Merovingian throne. Oops.
Today’s proverb, comme on connaît ses saints, on les honore (come ohn coneh leh sahn, ohn lez onor), literally means “as one knows one’s saints, one honors them.” We’d say something like “To know a friend is to respect him” or more generally “To know him is to love him.” The church is dedicated to Saint Sulpitius the Pious (also known as the Débonnaire, which is quite amusing) a 6th century Bishop of Bourges, the son of a noble family who dedicated himself to good works and scripture from a young age. Too bad Dan Brown didn’t weave his intriguing tale around one of the real stories that make up the rich tapestry of Paris.