The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacré-Cœur (French: Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, pronounced [sakʁe kœʁ]), is a Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Paris, France. A popular landmark, the basilica is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city.
Sacré-Cœur is a double monument, political and cultural, both a national penance for the excesses of the Second Empire and socialist Paris Commune of 1871 crowning its most rebellious neighborhood, and an embodiment of conservative moral order, publicly dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was an increasingly popular vision of a loving and sympathetic Christ.
The Sacré-Cœur Basilica was designed by Paul Abadie. Construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It was consecrated after the end of World War I in 1919. The Basilica together at the Vittoriano monument in Rome is the whitest of Europe. The inspiration for Sacré Cœur's design originated on September 4, 1870, the day of the proclamation of the Third Republic, with a speech by Bishop Fournier attributing the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to a divine punishment after "a century of moral decline" since the French Revolution, in the wake of the division in French society that arose in the decades following that revolution, between devout Catholics and legitimist royalists on one side, and democrats, secularists, socialists and radicals on the other.
This schism became particularly pronounced after the Franco-Prussian War and the ensuing uprising of the Paris Commune of 1870-71. Though today the Basilica is asserted [when?] to be dedicated in honor of the 58,000 who lost their lives during the war, the decree of the Assemblée Nationale, 24 July 1873, responding to a request by the archbishop of Paris by voting its construction, specifies that it is to "expiate the crimes of the Commune". Montmartre had been the site of the Commune's first insurrection, and many dedicated communards were forever entombed in the subterranean galleries of former gypsum mines where they had retreated, by explosives detonated at the entrances by the Army of Versailles.
Hostages had been executed on both sides, and the Communards had executed Georges Darboy, Archbishop of Paris, who became a martyr for the resurgent Catholic Church. His successor Guibert, climbing the Butte Montmartre in October 1872, was reported to have had a vision, as clouds dispersed over the panorama: "It is here, it is here where the martyrs are, it is here that the Sacred Heart must reign so that it can beckon all to come".