Le Val-de-Grâce Church and Military Health Museum

Posted on Apr 13, 2016 in Paris Stories | 0 comments

This incredibly beautiful building was commissioned by Queen Anne d’Autriche in 1645 as thanks to God for her having finally born a son and heir to the throne, Louis XIV, who at the age of 7, laid the first stone. Its initial purpose was as a convent and it remained one until 1795 when it became a military hospital.

Today it houses the museum of the history of military health services and a school for military medical training. The hospital itself is in a modern facility to the east of the church where anyone with French health insurance can be treated. I know where I’ll be going if I ever need to be hospitalized.

The photos below of the disfigured soldiers were fascinating to me. The doctors learned on these men. There were some 500,000 facial or head wounds during WWI and prior to this, there was no specialization for dealing with it. They had to not only put their faces back together so they could have a somewhat normal social life, but the function of the face as well. I hope all these men were awarded medals for their service.

Here is a link to an interesting article in Smithsonian Magazine on the subject.

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