The basilica was dedicated in 1919, following the end of World War I. It is regarded as both a political and a cultural monument, reflecting a national penance for France's defeat in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War as well as the socialist Paris Commune's acts in 1871. The basilica remains a major pilgrimage site for many Catholics.
The original plan called for a smaller church with three naves, but funding ran out before it could be completed. The plans were revised to include an entire nave instead, with an additional sanctuary added at a later date. The new design was created by French architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, who also designed the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. The sacristy was originally planned to be part of the first phase of construction, but it was not until 1926 that it was finally completed under the direction of architect Pierre Chareau.
In addition to being a religious building, the basilica is considered a museum, library, and theater. It contains several paintings by famous artists such as Gustave Dore, Jean-François Millet, and Paul Cézanne, as well as other sculptures and artifacts dating back as far as the 4th century.
The church (consecrated as a basilica because it is a pilgrimage site) was dedicated in 1919. It was created after the Paris insurgency to build a new Catholic "moral order," and hence is fairly contemporary in comparison to a landmark like Notre-Dame de Paris (12th–13th century).
The church is actually made up of three separate buildings, all constructed by French architect Charles-Marie Brisebois between 1874 and 1889. The first building was meant to be a place of worship, but when funds ran out it became a storage room for paintings and other objects donated by various people. The second building was intended to be a school for poor children, but once again finances ran dry before it could be completed. The final building was planned as a hospice for homeless people who were traveling down the road from Paris that now leads to the entrance of the church. This building also never got finished due to lack of funding.
At one point, there were plans to connect all three buildings together with an underground tunnel network, but these plans never came to fruition.
Today, visitors can enter the third building through a small museum that features some original drawings and models of the church designed by Brisebois. Outside, you can see the tombs of several famous Catholics including Blaise Pascal, Pierre Curie, and Georges Clemenceau.
In 1873, he persuaded the French Parliament to approve legislation proclaiming the basilica to be in the public interest. In 1873, architect Paul Abadie was chosen. In 1891, the incomplete Sacre-Coeur was dedicated. The basilica was consecrated in 1919, following World War I. It is the largest church in Paris.
The original plan called for a smaller version of the basilica but this was changed at the last minute. The change was made because the government wanted the basilica to be as large as possible so it could hold more than two million pilgrims every year. The larger version would have been too expensive and time-consuming to build.
Abadie was born in France in 1835. He studied architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris before going into private practice. In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, he designed military hospitals for the army. In 1873, he was invited by Archbishop Félix Dupanloup to design a new basilica for Paris. The project was a great success and it provided Abadie with the opportunity to show his artistic talent. He died in 1890 at the age of 39 years old. The basilica was completed by another architect who is not known today.
The Sacre-Coeur is one of the most famous landmarks in Paris and it has become a symbol of Christianity throughout the world.