As previously announced on famvin the Virtual Exhibit of “St. Lazare as a Women’s Prison” is now available online. It includes an Introduction and sections entitled “The Story”, “Maps”, “Images”, Bibliography. It marks a new milestone in understanding how this important place in Vincentian history fared over a 138 year period from 1794 until 1932.

“Founded in the twelfth century by Louis VII as a leprosarium far outside the gates of the medieval city, the priory of Saint-Lazare already had a long history when it unexpectedly fell into the hands of Vincent de Paul.   With no more lepers in residence, and only a handful of aging monks, the last prior Adrien LeBon was searching for a way to put the property to a new ecclesiastical use, and guarantee the retirement needs of his dwindling community.  Vincent de Paul and the newly-founded, (1625) Congregation of the Mission were an answer to his prayers.”

…”On January 12, 1632, the priory became the maison-mère of the Congregation of the Mission.   The rather ramshackle enclosed compound that Vincent knew was rebuilt, at great expense, at the end of the seventeenth century by his second successor as superior general of the Lazarists, Edmond Jolly.

…”However, in March 1931, the Commision des monuments historiques declined to give protected status to the building on the basis of cost.  With all appeals finished, the demolition of the old prison started in June 1933 with the right wing of the second court.   It would take seven years until May of 1940, before the wrecking crews would finally demolish all the prison’s extensive fabric of buildings and walls.”

….”In 2003, plans were drawn up for the re-use and remodeling of the facility.  Two years later, in 2005, the buildings finally were given landmark status. In 2010, they re-opened as a crèche and centre social for the 10th arrondisement. Thus, after almost 900 years the social service memories, and present social services of Paris remain joined at this venerable site of Saint-Lazare.”

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