English speaking tourism was an established feature of life on the Côte d’Azur and in Monaco a hundred and fifty years ago. Some visitors settled permanently, and in so doing, moved beyond the temporary provision of worship centres for visitors in hotels, to the building of their own churches.
A first initiative was made in Monaco in 1869, by a Mr. de Mello to erect a ‘Protestant Temple Church’ but it did not succeed. In 1888, Mr. Edward Smith, Monaco Banker, British Vice-Consul and devout churchman, bought a plot of land and erected a wooden church in the neighbouring French commune of Beausoleil. This was known as the Église Anglo-Americaine.
Bishop Sandford, Church of England Bishop in Gibraltar at that time, and responsible for chaplaincies in southern Europe, did not approve of the initiative. Unlike France, where church and state are separate, the Roman Catholic Church in Monaco is the Established Church of the Principality. Introducing a chapel of the English Established Church was a diplomatic issue. The Anglophone expatriate community however, embraced then, as now, several nationalities, and denominations. Confident in his mission, Smith went ahead and appointed a pastor without episcopal authorisation.
Integration into the diocese
Bishop Sandford eventually incorporated the church into the diocese in 1893, under the supervision of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, a foreign missionary organisation, with European chaplaincies in its care. The building was dedicated in honour of St Cyprian the Martyr. It prospered until 1913 when it was demolished as part of an enlargement scheme. Work was halted by the first World War, when many expatriates were obliged to leave the country. After the War, services resumed in temporary accommodation, while other arrangements were being negotiated. The Salle communale of Beausoleil is built on the site once occupied by St Cyprian’s. The bell, a few ornaments, and the credence table used to serve the main altar, are all that survive of the original church.
A New Beginning
In 1921, the Princely family of Monaco gave the land on which the present building is sited for raising an Anglican Church in the Principality. St Paul’s was built and dedicated by the Bishop of Gibraltar on 19 February 1925. The avenue des Fleurs in Monte-Carlo, on which it was located, was re-named avenue de Grande-Bretagne in honour of the occasion.