The Festival of the Supreme Being

On June 8, 1794, the French had to celebrate the Supreme Being in Paris: Robespierre was persuaded that only a civic religion could cement ties between citizens. On the Champ-de-Mars, renamed the Champ de la Réunion, an immense mountain replaced the altar of Liberty and at its peak, a tree of Liberty. As songs dedicated to the Supreme Being rang out, deputies climbed up the mountain.

The Festival of the Supreme Being, 1794
The Festival of the Supreme Being, 1794



Entrance to the Champ de Mars, rue de Belgrade


The Champ-de-Mars and its neighborhood
The Champ-de-Mars Massacre

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The mountain, the Revolution’s forgotten symbol

The Triumph of the Republic, 1792-1794
The Triumph of the Republic, 1792-1794

Was the mountain a revolutionary symbol? It has been forgotten, but during the Revolution, it was as popular as the Phrygian cap or the tricolor cockade. For revolutionaries, the mountain was the return to freedom and natural rights. And yet, the mountain could also be equated with a volcano and the collective energy of uprisings. Starting with the Festival of the Federation in 1790, knolls of earth were constructed and their summits planted with trees of Liberty. Very quickly, they appeared in all festivals, on engravings and even in churches, when the latter were transformed into Temples of Reason! In 1793, “the Mountain” was even the name given to the most radical republicans in the Assembly, supporters of a democratic and social regime.

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