Brochure intitulée "Le Jardin de Picpus"
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Transcription - English

The Picpus Garden

June – July 1794: The second year of the one and indivisible Republic, two years after the death of the tyrant...

“From my prison, I breathe the horrible odors of the Picpus mass grave,” wrote Raymond de Sèze to his family.

Prison... mass grave... These two words alone evoke the drama of the revolution, and Picpus became its theater.

Picpus? How? Why?

In order to frame this question, let us first examine a number of historical events.

Picpus

A strange sounding word... What is its origin?

It is said that an epidemic of an infection that caused large blisters broke out in an area to the east of Paris in the early 18th century. Monks living in the area treated the afflicted by making incisions into the blisters. According to legend, the grateful population named them “Frères Pique Pus,” or “Prick Puss Brothers.”

According to another tradition, the monks were called “Frères Pique Puce,” or “Prick Flea Brothers,” due to the dark brown color of their tunics.

These stories justify the spellings Pique Pus and Pique Puce, but Picpus and Picpusse also exist. We should thus simply agree with the specialists that the etymology of the word is unknown.

Paris Was Not Built in a Day

Paris, formerly known as Lutece, was not built in a day. According to popular legend, the city was formed around the Ile de la Cité, radiating outward like growth rings on a tree trunk. In the Gallo-Roman Period, a wall surrounded the island. In the era of Philippe-Auguste, the city was overflowing onto the two banks of the river, so a new rampart was built. Under Charles V the city again expanded and a new wall was erected. Under Louis XIII the city enlarged to the west, and a new wall incorporated the Palais des Tuileries into the city.

The construction of the wall of the Fermiers Généraux, the site of the current outer boulevards, was only begun in 1784 under Louis XVI. This was built in order to facilitate tax collection activity – it marked the entry and exit of merchandise. Toll gates called “barrières” were installed with offices.

The humorous saying “Mur murant Paris qui rend Paris murmurant,” or “Wall surrounding Paris that made the city murmur,” was coined during this time.

From this time on, the Place du Trône and Picpus were an integral part of the city of Paris.

The Place du Trône

After his marriage on August 26, 1660, Louis XIV returned from Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The king and the young queen Marie-Thérèse were given a triumphant welcome by the people of Paris. At the east entrance to the city, a “Hault Dais ou Throsne Royal” was erected. The memory of this survives in the name of Place du Trône.

At the time of the Revolution, the variant “Place du Trône renversé,” or “Square of the Overthrown Throne,” was coined. In 1805 the name “Place du Trône” was reinstated. In 1880 it was renamed “Place de la Nation.” As a child, Louis XIII laid the first stone of the chapel, and apartments in the convent were reserved for foreign ambassadors before their official entry into Paris.

The Convent of the Chanoinesses de Saint-Augustin

Closer to the square was another convent in the Rue de Picpus, that of the Chanoinesses de Saint-Augustin. The sisters of this convent had come from Reims in 1640, called by Mgr de Gondi, Archbishop of Paris. The convent was founded under the name “Notre-Dame de la Victoire de Lepante et de Saint-Joseph.” The sisters were cloistered; M. Tubeuf, the Queen’s finance minister, had purchased the property with houses and gardens enclosed inside high walls.

Transcription - Français

Document

This booklet written by Sister Magdeleine S. Rougier, ss.cc.


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