A little history of Saint-Martin and Saint-Augustin church in Nice

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The church - ©Patrice Semeria / CC-BY-SA The church - ©Patrice Semeria / CC-BY-SA
Saint-Martin-Saint-Augustin church in Nice Parish church Giuseppe Garibaldi

An old church

Here we are in front of the oldest parish in Nice, created in 1510! So, lots of events happened here: the tradition says that Martin Luther said Mass here in June 20th 1534. Well, it’s only a legend, because Luther never came in Nice...

On the contrary, Garibaldi was baptized here. The archives said: "On July 19th 1807, Joseph-Marie, born on July 4th, son of Jean-Dominique Garibaldi, sailor, and Rose Raymondo, was baptized." The family of the famous Italian politician lived in the district...

But what about our church? The old bell-tower collapsed in 1887 and the façade dates back to 1854: with its entrance flanks by 4 Doric columns, it seems so simple, completely uncluttered.

The protector saint

Let’s enter the church: look, this painting, in Saint-Nicolas chapel! Who’s that man, praying? Saint Nicolas of Tolentino, an Augustine hermit who became patron saint of Nice! People especially prayed him during the city siege in 1706, when king Louis XIV’s army fought against duke of Savoy.

They decided to invoke the saint, in order to calm down the war! They gave him offerings and masses took place in front of his altar, in his chapel. And the war ended... Thanks, Nicolas!

Anyway, since that moment, people from Nice invoked him a lot, to protect the city from thunder and guns! Tolentino also cured sick persons, they even sold little breads, after mass, with the saint’s effigy on them... a kind of medicine or lucky charm!

Bréa’s pieta

Another curiosity, here: a Pieta made by Louis Bréa. This painting (about 1m45 long) represented the traditional scene where Virgin Mary is with her son Jesus, dead on her knees, with saint John and Mary-Magdalene by her side. This Pieta was made in 1489. A very touching scene!

Faces are pretty moving, especially John’s face, on the left, who shed a tear... The scene is pretty dark, only enhanced by blue and grey touches (the sky) and red strokes (saints' clothes) on each sides of the panel...

And also!