Roman Catholic Church in St. Petersburg
Before the revolution in the capital lived 3 700 French Catholics, who prayed, as a rule, in the St. Catherine Church on Nevsky. At the French Embassy in 1860 appeared the idea of a separate temple for both, and at the same time architect N. Benois created a project for the building in the Gothic style. However, only in October, 1898, Ambassador count Montebello managed, through the Russo-French rapprochement, to achieve the Highest resolution on the construction of the Roman Catholic Church. First for him, took Manezhnaya square, but because of the protests of the Orthodox Church and the public in the summer of 1900 was bought for 67 thousands rubles a site away from the city center, in the Kovensky lane. Here, in the same year, the project of architect O. I. Thibault-Brignoles, member of the community, was built a small temporary parish Church made of wood.
At the request of Father Superior A. Kuni, academician L.N. Benoit composed in 1902 a project of a three-nave basilica in the Romanesque style with a separate high bell tower. According to this project, which was distinguished by its picturesque composition, the building was laid on June 23, 1903 in the presence of Ambassador Count Montebello. It was built on donations and lottery income. First of all, a crypt with a temporary overlap was built, which allowed to immediately begin the service. Now this is the lower hall of the church.
The French company Batignol donated a lot of Finnish granite left from the construction of the Trinity Bridge to the community, and the Black Sea plant - cement, which ultimately led to a change in the initial project. In 1908, L.N. Benois and his student M.M. Peretyatkovich drew up a new version, offering instead of the naves a hall covered with reinforced concrete vault and a facade lined with coarse-crushed granite, which gave the building a modern-style appearance. The amended draft required reapproval. Legal difficulties arised and were overcome trough intervention of the French embassy. Peretyatkovich himself supervised the construction, the main contractor was an experienced engineer S. N. Smirnov, the construction was performed by the partnership “Reinforced Concrete”. On a 30-meter bell tower hung a bell cast at the factory of K. Orlov. Bowls for holy water were made from sea shells.
The consecration of the church in the name of the French Mother of God (Notre Dame de France) was performed on November 22, 1909 by Bishop Jan Tseplyak in the presence of members of the diplomatic corps and government officials.
Inside the church was decorated with adjacent Gothic columns. The altarpiece “Jeanne d’Arc - Defender of France” was painted in 1916 by the famous artist and academician E. K. Lipgart (in 1957 the image was replaced by the painting “Handing the keys to Apostle Peter” by Zakharov).
Here were held last rites of representatives of the Benoit family and many Petersburgers of French descent. The community before the revolution totaled 1 500 parishioners.
The feast day is celebrated on February 11, earlier it was celebrated on August 15, the day of the Assumption.
The superior of 1907–1935 was the Dominican pater Jean Amoudru. Until August 1941, services were conducted by Father Clovis Florun, who was expelled from the USSR after breaking relations with France.
The church did not function in 1922–1923, but then did not close (because it was still assigned to the French embassy) and for a long time was the only active Catholic church in Leningrad. In these years, mainly Poles prayed in it.
During the blockade, services ceased and only in the autumn of 1945 resumed. Since that time, the temple has the name of Our Lady of Lourdes. In 1997, the interior was decorated with stained glass windows with biblical scenes made by I. Baykova.