There’s a church in practically every village but there’s something special about the Sainte-Mère-Église church in Normandy.
It was built in the 11th century in the Romanesque style and completed four centuries later in the Gothic style. It’s topped by a saddleback bell tower and gained a place in history on D-Day as one of the first towns to be liberated. This was achieved through the efforts of American paratroopers who were dropped into Sainte-Mère-Église in the early hours of 6th June 1944.
As the paratroopers were landing there was a building on fire in the town. This lit up the night sky making the soldiers very visible and thwarting their attempt to take the German troops by surprise. Some of the American troops got caught in trees and were shot before they could escape.
One of the paratroopers, an American named John Steele, got his parachute caught on the church steeple and remained suspended for several hours until he was cut down and taken prisoner by German troops. He escaped several days later, returned to his regiment and survived the war. To commemorate this event and the liberation of the town, a paratrooper effigy and parachute remain on the church steeple.
Inside the church there are the usual stained glass windows.
There are also newer windows which pay tribute to the brave soldiers who landed near the Sainte-Mére-Église church in Normandy.
For a bird’s eye view of the church, please see this drone video.
It’s a lovely little town to visit – full of history and Normandy charm.