In 1239, Louis IX (also known as St. Louis) had allegedly purchased Christ’s crown of thorns from the Venetians. Two years later, from Baudouin II (the last Latin emperor of Constantinople) he acquired fragments of the Sainte-Croix, as well as other relics from The Passion. He believed that these developments merited the construction of a building that was dedicated to housing these treasures – this would be the Sainte-Chapelle, which was consecrated in 1248. The sanctuary was included in the City Palace, the first royal residence, and it was alongside The Conciergerie. Louis IX demonstrated his clever political sense by associating Christ with the French Crown.
In the 18th Century, Louis XVI had understood the symbolic value of these relics perfectly. In 1791, while the revolution was embarrassing Paris, he safely secured them in the Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis. The Sainte-Chappelle experienced several fires due to the building degrading during the eras of the revolution and the Empire. The current building is a monument that has been restored to its 19th Century style. Several architects worked on its renovation from 1836 until 1857, of which the most famous was Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. They crafted several additions, such as the steeple of the bell tower and the ‘fleur de lys’ internal decorations – these would certainly have never existed within the original medieval building. These additions do not prevent people from appreciating its beauty.