Paroisse (Parish Church) Saint-Joseph Artisan
214 Rue la Fayette (10th arrond), Paris
Near Louis Blanc metro, and not far from the Canal Saint-Martin at the Jaures end, we discovered a church that’s hardly known to Parisians even. This lovely church is hidden and not visible from the street. You need to open a gate at 214 Rue la Fayette, then walk along a fairly narrow corridor (through the building facing the street) that opens into a small courtyard dominated by the imposing Church of Saint-Joseph Artisan.
We happened on it by chance, as we were staying at the Hotel Paris Louis Blanc nearby and were wandering in the neighborhood, as we tend to do, and wondered what was along that corridor—-the gate was open at that time.
It’s an attractive church inside and we were curious about the name. Why Artisan?
We found some information boards in the corridor—all in French, as they obviously don’t get many visitors. Actually the ‘Artisan’ part of the name does not seem to feature that much in the church’s history, which is very interesting and pretty tumultuous. A small book sums up the history: “from Saint-Joseph des Allemands to Saint-Joseph Artisan.”
In 1851, thanks to the efforts of Jesuit Father Chable, a wooden chapel and two schools were created for German-speaking people who came to work in Paris. It was called l’eglise de Saint-Joseph des Allemands. A stone church replaced this in 1866. Prince Metternich was a protector between 1859-1870 and a number of other people in high positions aided and guided the German Mission in Paris. After Father Chable died in 1859 there were various German and Swiss priests.
During times of war—1870, 1914, 1939—Franco-German relations were jeopardized, and the German colony in Paris was much affected, with Jesuits being forbidden to teach and other activities needing to be approved by government decree. During the wars many things happened to the church. For example, it was bombarded in 1871 and its stained-glass windows broken. The church served as part of a military hospital in WW1. We saw a stele in the church dedicated to Fathers Stoeffels and Wampach, who were arrested by the German police in WW2 and sent to Dachau, where they died in 1942.
Another difficulty for the church was that ownership changed hands a number of times. In 1903 the Mission was acquired by the state and in 1910 the Prince of Saxe acquired the chapel and the buildings on the courtyard. It was only in 1996 that it all came under the patrimonie of the diocese of Paris. Slowly over the years, this place originally established for German speakers changed, and the schools and the congregation accepted anyone, regardless of origin or language.
In 1958 Cardinal Feltin changed the name to paroisse Saint-Joseph Artisan. A series of stained-glass windows, created in the workshops of the Loir, were added in 2004.
Quite a story for a little-known place!