00 33 184.108.40.206.87 or
00 33 220.127.116.11.86 Fax : … 18.104.22.168.87
April, 1st to November,
Everyday from 2.30 pm to
and Sunday morning, from 10 to 12 am
Open only for groups booked
This is one of four Great War
national monuments built after 1918. Straight after the end of the conflict, it
was decided to build this memorial for all the victims of this war and in
thanksgiving to God. Therefore, as early as 1919, the Duchess of Estissac
formed a committee comprising H.E. Cardinal Luçon, Archbishop of Reims,
Monsignor Tissier, Bishop of Châlons and Marshall Foch who chose the site.
According to him indeed, Dormans had been the central point of the two battles
of the Marne (September 1914 and July 1918) during which the future of France
was decided. A national subscription provided for the creation of this
fifty-two-meter-high Monument of remembrance, which overlooks the park and its
14th, and 18th century castle, which belonged to famous names of
The square and the main frontage
On the square, there are sundial and
an orientation table, which points to the surrounding villages of the second
battle of the Marne (July 1918).
The gothic-inspired chapel as a
whole is both religiously and militarily motivated. Indeed, the square tower
crowned with a crenulated rampart walk and its loophole-pierced wall along the
staircase is in the mediaeval tradition of the monks-soldiers.
The main frontage is dedicated to
Christ-king, represented on the gable. He is being crowned by the hand of God –
not by the angels – and is surrounded by Saint Louis on his right and Joan of
Arc on his left. The whole is treated in high relief.
The second gable is higher and
topped with a bronze Saint Michael. The same personage is represented crushing
the dragon, symbol of the enemy, on the stained glass window, which lights up
the narthex of the crypt.
The crypt, opened to worship as
early as 1924, opens on to the square. On the tympanum, above the inscription
meaning “To Christ…”, a Military
Cross entwined in a crown of thorns reminds us that victory requires sacrifice.
In contrast with the upper chapel, this is a place of mourning: the sarcophagus
stands for the 1.350.000 dead people of the war, the names of those who gave
their lives during the battles of the Marne are forever engraved in the stone,
and the characteristics of war on the wrought iron gate separating the narthex
from the crypt.
However, since everything here is a
symbol, mourning is closely linked to hope. That is why the low reliefs on
either side of the high-altar, which is topped with a statue of Our Lady of the
Marne, show on the right the weeping angels of the De Profundis and on the left joyful angels of the Te Deum. On the frontage one can also
notice a French cockerel weeping for the dead while another one is exulting for
In the centre, the great wrought
iron chandelier bears these words in Latin: “I will keep the sleeping ones and I will illuminate those who hope in
the Lord”. The very same words are to be written again on the huge stained
glass window of the upper chapel.
The upper chapel
On the tympanum, one can see a low
relief, which represents the angels presenting a dying soldier at the bottom of
the Cross with the words: “May the angels
lead you to Heaven”. This is the transition from mourning to joy. The door
opens on the colossal stained glass window where Saint Joan of Arc and Saint
Michael present a “poilu” to Christ-Glorious, surrounded by angels and allied
soldiers. On the right hand side are Lieutenant-Colonel Driant, French hero
killed in 1916 near Douaumont and Corporal Sellier who sounded the ceasefire on
November 7th 1918 to clear the way for the German authorities to put
forwards the terms of the armistice.
Around the choir, the stained glass
windows show the coats of arms of the French provinces of the time.
On the North and South sides, one
can see the patron saints of the armies and the Blessed Virgins of the front.
Eight French saints are carved in the stone buttresses having the features of
those linked to the 14-18 war.
The dome, lit by thirty-two windows
and on which the Latin word “lux”
(i.e. light) and the beginning of the “Te Deum” are written, is supported by
four pillars, two which were given by Alsace and Lorraine. Firmin Michelet
carved each of them depicting a scene in French history: Saint Loup stopping
the Huns in 451, Charles Martel checking the Arabs in Poitiers in 732, Joan of
Arc driving the English out of France in 1429 in Orléans and the fourth is
dedicated to the Marne victories (September 1914, July 1918). France is represented by a young girl giving
a crown and a sword (symbols of victory) to a soldier and holding an olive
branch (symbol of peace) in her other hand.
The design of the floor of the
chapel reminds one of the labyrinths of the cathedrals of Reims and Amiens.
The North frontage is dedicated to
the Blessed Virgin with a copy of a statue in Reims cathedral and overlooks the
esplanade and its lantern to the dead. The South frontage is simply decorated
with Dormans coat of arms.
It contains the bones of about 1.500
soldiers from both German and allied armies. Only eleven of them have been
identified. After World War II, three urns were also added here: one holding
the ashes of those deported toDachau, the second holding some earth from a
French cemetery in Italy and the third some earth from Dien Bien Phu, in homage
to the combatants of Indo-china.
The gravestone reads: “The
humiliated bones shall leap with joy before the Lord”. In the back, behind
Marshall Foch’s death mask topped with the allied flags, the white crosses on
the stained glass window remind one of the military cemeteries, such as that of
Under the cloister, the organization
chart of the battles of the Marne, which twice saved France, can be seen.
- o O o -
This leaflet sums up the facts. It should help for a short visit of the
monument. You will find at the entrance a French illustrated booklet and much
more about this important remembrance site.