Religious buildings that commemorate women

Places of worship sometimes have their history intertwined with that of illustrious characters. These buildings bear the traces of women who were recognised in their time and are today esteemed for their legacy.

Church of St Joan of Arc, France

The church of Sainte-Jeanne-d'Arc was built in 1979 on the plans of the architect Louis Arretche. Inside you can see 13 16th century stained glass windows from the choir of the former church of Saint-Vincent. This church, which resembles both a Viking ship and a fish, is located on the spot where Joan of Arc (1412 - 1431) was burned at the stake.

Church of St Joan of Arc

Church of San Giorgio dei Genovesi, Italy

The church of San Giorgio dei Genovesi was built between 1575 and 1596 by the Piedmontese architect Giorgio Di Faccio for the Genoese merchants of Palermo. The exterior is dominated by forms and styles of Tuscan origin, while the interior shows the union of Byzantine and Norman art. Among those buried in the church is Sofonisba Anguissola (1532 - 1625), a woman painter famous for her portraits of the court of Philip II of Spain. Sofonisba Anguissola was born in Cremona, in a noble family, from the marriage of Amilcare Anguissola and Bianca Ponzoni. She was one of the first women painters to reach the heights of the European artistic scene during her lifetime.

Church of San Giorgio dei Genovesi

St Julian's Church, United-Kingdom

Little is known about the origins of St. Julian's Church, as the original building was largely destroyed in 1942 during the "Norwich Blitz". The present church is a restoration completed in 1953. However, the church is famous for having been the place where Lady Julian (1342-1416) stayed most of her life as an anchoress. During her confinement in the church, she wrote the "Revelations of Divine Love", the oldest book in the English language to have been written by a woman.

St Julian's Church

Rykestrasse Synagogue, Germany

The Rykestrasse synagogue was built in 1903/04 in the Romanesque Revival style. It is located in Prenzlauer Berg, a district at the heart of Berlin's Jewish life until the beginning of the Nazi regime. Since its reopening in 1953, it has been the largest synagogue in Germany. This synagogue was the place where Regina Jonas (1902-1944) went with her family as a kid. Student at the liberal "University for the Science of Judaism" in Berlin and finally ordained by Max Dienemann in 1935, she became the first woman rabbi. Deported to Theresienstadt in 1942, she died two years later in the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Rykestrasse Synagogue

Basilica of Santa Croce, Italy

The Basilica of Santa Croce is a must-see monument in Florence. Built at the end of the thirteenth century by the Franciscans, it was at the centre of the Florentine Renaissance in the 15th century, being the burial place of important personalities such as Michelangelo and Machiavelli. The church also houses a memorial to Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), a British nurse, born in Florence, a pioneer in modern nursing practice and the use of statistics in health care.

Basilica of Santa Croce

Saint-Eustache's Church, France

The origins of the church of Saint-Eustache go back to the beginning of the 13th century. A chapel dedicated to Saint Agnes was the first building to be constructed. A crypt bearing this name is still attached to the church on the east side. In 1223, Sainte Agnès was erected as a parish and took the name of Saint-Eustache. The construction of the present church, however, only began in 1532 and lasted until 1633. The church was then partially rebuilt in 1754. Many Parisian personalities are buried in the church cemetery, among them Marie de Gournay (1565 - 1645), one of the few women to live from writing in Europe at that time. Her famous writings include "L'égalité des hommes et des femmes" (1622).

Saint-Eustache's Church

Gandersheim Abbey, Germany

Gandersheim Abbey was founded in 852 by the Saxon Count Liudolf. An imperial abbey from the 13th century until its dissolution in 1810, it hosted a community of women from noble families who lived secular lives without having to take perpetual vows. The abbey is famous to have been the living place of Hrotsvita of Gandersheim, a poetess and first Germanic author of the Ottonian Renaissance (930-1030). As Canoness, she wrote the history of the Gandersheim Abbey, hagiographies, but also plays and epic poems, rediscovered during the Renaissance.

Gandersheim Abbey

San Pantalon's Church, Italy

The church of San Pantalon, consecrated in 1745, bears the name of the local saint San Pantaleone di Nicomedia in Bithynia. San Pantalon was a doctor between the 3rd and 4th century and was martyred during the persecutions of Maximian between 305 and 310. The church is the place where Lucrezia Marinella (1571-1653), a Venetian poet and writer, defender of women's rights, was buried. She is known for her text 'The Nobility and Excellence of Women, and the Defects and Vices of Men' published in 1600.

San Pantalon's Church