The construction of the Augustinian Fathers’ (Petits-Pères) convent church began in December 1629. It was financed by Louis XIII, who called it “Notre Dame des Victoires” in gratitude for the Virgin’s help in his recent victories, consolidating the kingdom’s unity.
One of the lay friars, Friar Fiacre, obtained by his prayers the birth of the Dauphin – Louis Dieudonné, who will become Louis XIV – that had been expected for fifteen years. After a pilgrimage in Savone (Italy), Friar Fiacre began to invoke Our Lady of Victories under the name of “Refuge of Sinners”.
At the French revolution, the Augustinian Fathers were expelled from their monastery. The church was changed into a stock market.
After 1809, it became a parish but as it was located in a business area, there were few believers.
Father Charles Eléonore Dufriche Desgenettes, the parish priest of “Notre Dame des Victoires”, was about to lose hope, as a divine inspiration made him consecrate his parish to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. It happened in 1836, on the 3rd of december, a saturday. Then it constituted the Archconfraternity for the conversion of sinners.
From that moment, the pilgrims and believers began to flock. They came to thank the Virgin, covering the walls of the church with ex-voto.
Among the numerous pilgrims, the most famous were the Ratisbonne brothers, St Jean Bosco, Anne-Marie Javouhey, François Libermann, Emmanuel d’Alzon, Hermann Cohen, St Theophane Venard and particularly Thérèse Martin (Ste Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus), who recovered from a serious disease during a novena of masses to Our Lady of Victories at her intention.
“Notre Dame des Victoires” Church became a Basilica in 1927, and nowadays it still welcomes men and women in search of a refuge and some comfort with Virgin Mary, victorious of evil. The pilgrims also expect the grace of the conversion of the heart, that is the grace to dedicate their whole life of Lord Jesus, Saviour of mankind, following Mary’s own example.
The Benedictine of the Sacred Heart of Montmartreare in charge – with the priests – of the spiritual animation of the Basilica. Every day, they pray at the divine office, take an active part in the masses, lead the rosary and participate in the Eucharistic Adoration with believers and pilgrims.