A 'seminary for foreign missions' had been set up on rue du Bac in 1637 by Monseigneur Duval, with an accord from pope Urban VIII, during the Counter Reformation. The seminary's oratory or chapel was built between 1683 and 1689, with interior decoration by Jacques Stella, Nicolas Poussin and Simon Vouet, and it was this chapel that operated secretly as a parish church for the area during the Revolutionary era when the area's actual parish church of Saint-Sulpice was shut down. In 1801 the chapel was attached to the church of Saint-Thomas-d’Aquin, which became the church for the Faubourg Saint-Germain, and the 'Missions étrangères' parish was officially recognised and split from the parish of Saint-Sulpice in 1802, at which time its curé was abbé Dessaubaz.
40 years later, in 1842, the parish was dedicated to St Francis Xavier. However, the chapel soon became too cramped for the seminarians and parishioners to share and the parishioners began construction on a new church in 1861 under abbé Jean-Louis Roquette (curé of the church from 1848 to 1889), headed by Adrien Lusson then Joseph Uchard and paid for by the Ville de Paris. The chosen site was in the corner of boulevard des Invalides and a planned boulevard right across the district towards rue des Saints-Pères that would meet the Seine level with pont du Carrousel. According to the principals of Haussmann's renovation of Paris, the new church would then form the end to this planned boulevard, explaining why its siting seems odd today, shifted over the boulevard and the hôtel des Invalides. Lusson began the works, but they were interrupted in 1863 and resumed under Uchard after Lusson's death. Work on the exterior was completed on 15 July 1874 and inaugurated at Easter 1875, at which point the interior decor was still incomplete. It was finally consecrated on 23 May 1894, the eve of Corpus Christi, in a ceremony presided over by François-Marie-Benjamin Richard, archbishop of Paris.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.