Cemetery of the Week #151: The French Pantheon

IMG_6737

All photos taken by Loren Rhoads in 2016.

The Pantheon
Place du Pantheon
75005 Paris, France
Telephone: 01 44 32 18 00
Pantheonizations began: 1791
Number of interments:
Open: Every day, except January 1, May 1, and December 25
Homepage: http://www.monuments-nationaux.fr

In 451, Attila the Hun threatened the Roman settlement called Lutecia, where Paris now stands. A shepherdess named Genevieve rallied the people to pray for deliverance. When the Huns broke off the siege, Genevieve was proclaimed a savior.

After she died in 502, a small oratory was built over her grave. This was followed in 508 by a church, dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, built by Clovis, King of the Franks.  Three years later he was buried in it. After his wife (who became Saint Clotilde) joined him there in 545, the church was renamed in honor of Saint Genevieve, who became the patron of Paris.

In times of trouble, Genevieve’s relics were carried through the city streets. In 1754, Louis XV credited Genevieve with helping him recover from a grave illness and funded renovation of the church. Jacques-Germain Soufflot wanted the new church to rival St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London.

Foundation work began in 1757, but the hill below was like swiss cheese, so it needed a lot of shoring up. While the crypt was completed in 1763, the cornerstone wasn’t laid until September the following year.

The church was completed by 1790, when the Marquis de Villette proposed burying Voltaire there so that that nation could honor him. He proposed the idea of making it a secular temple to honor the great men of France by interring their ashes in the underground recesses. In April 1791, the Constituent Assembly placed an inscription on the pediment that translates to “A grateful nation honors its great men.”

With much fuss, Voltaire’s ashes were moved to the newly named Pantheon on July 21, 1791.  Rosseau was pantheonized opposite him in October 1794.

Several people were honored with pantheonization, which was then revoked. Mirabeau was the first chosen to be honored, but since his niche wasn’t ready yet, his remains were sent to another church nearby. After he was interred there, it was discovered that he had committed treason against the Republic and he was uninvited. Le Peletier was pantheonized for voting for the death of the king and then being assassinated by a Royalist, but his family claimed his body in 1794. Marat was pantheonized the day Mirabeau was kicked out, but was himself kicked out the following year. After that, it was decided that people needed to be dead at least 10 years before they could be buried in the Pantheon.

IMG_6693Architect Quatremere de Quincy took over the Pantheon in 1791. He decided it needed to look gloomier, more like a mausoleum, so he bricked up all the lower windows. He also destroyed all the religious statuary, replacing it with statues of Liberty and France. Saint Genevieve herself was evicted in August 1792, after the fall of the monarchy.

 

Early in 1806, the Pantheon once again became a church after an agreement between Napoleon and the Pope. The upstairs returned to Saint Genevieve, but the crypt remained secular. A second entrance was built and 41 people were pantheonized between 1806 and 1815. Fifteen of them were officers, including generals who took part in Napoleon’s victories in Europe. 27 of them were senators.

With the restitution of the monarchy, the king signed the Pantheon back over to the church in its totality in 1816. It was consecrated for the first time in January 1822. Genevieve’s relics were reconstituted somehow.

In 1829, the architect Soufflot was buried in the crypt: the only addition during the reign of Charles X.

The July Revolution of 1830 put Louis-Phillippe on the throne. He closed the Pantheon/St. Genevieve’s church to the public.

In 1851, Foucault installed a pendulum to demonstrate the rotation of the earth. (A reconstruction hangs there now, while the original pendulum hangs at the Museum of Arts and Sciences). After Catholic opposition, the experiment was ended in December 1851.

Also that year, Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon III) staged a coup d’etat to reinstate the Empire. He gave the church back to the Catholics, called it a national basilica, reinstalled Genevieve’s reliquary, and added a chapter of canons.

After the Second Empire collapsed in September 1870, the crypt was used to store munitions while the Prussians besieged the city. The Pantheon’s dome was damaged in the fighting. The Paris Commune took over the church in March 1871 and also stored munitions in the crypt. They were driven out by army artillery.

IMG_6717When Victor Hugo died in 1885, he lay in state beneath the Arc de Triomphe before being inhumed in the Pantheon. No ten-year wait for him. He was joined by Emile Zola in 1908 and Alexandre Dumas (author of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo) was added in 2002.

Other internees in the Pantheon range from statesmen to military heroes to the assassinated President of the Third Republic. The heart of socialist hero, founder of the Third Republic, Leon Gambetta was added in 1920. Scientists include Pierre-Eugene Marcellin Bertheot, a chemist who became Minister of Education and Foreign Affairs, and physicists Paul Langevin and Jean Perrin. Louis Braille, inventor of the most common alphabet for the blind, was added in 1952.

IMG_6701After World War II, an inscription was added upstairs in the church to remember Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of The Little Prince, who had served as an aviator and was lost when his plane went down near Corsica.

In 1981, on the day of his investiture, Francois Mitterand laid a single red rose at the graves of Victor Schoelcher, Jean Jaures, and Moulin, who were defenders of Human Rights. Schoelcher had been pantheonized in 1949 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.

Pantheonizations continue to this day. In 1987, Rene Cassin, who’d received the Nobel Prize for Human Rights was added. He was followed in 1988 by Jean Mannet, the founder of the European Community.

IMG_6722The ashes of Pierre and Marie Curie were transferred to the Pantheon in 1995. She was the first woman to be buried there on her own merits.

Pantheonizations continue to this day. Currently, there is a push to add more diversity to those honored.

Other cemeteries in Paris on Cemetery Travel:

Pere Lachaise

Montparnasse

Napoleon’s Tomb

The Paris Ossuary

 

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Bibliography for Whistling Past the Graveyard

Slide01I’m off to debut a new lecture called Whistling Past the Graveyard at StokerCon on the Queen Mary this morning.  It’s a collection of stories about ghosts, vampires, and the devil — and the graveyards they roam.

I put together a bibliography of books that inspired me in my research, but I thought others might find it interesting:

A Grave Interest Blog by Joy Neighbors

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, and Ella Morton (Workman Publishing, 2016).

Beyond the Highgate Vampire: A True Case of Supernatural Occurrences and Vampirism that Centered Around London’s Highgate Cemetery by David Farrant (British Psychic and Occult Society, 1997).

Cemetery Stories by Katherine Ramsland (Harper Collins, 2001).

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey (Viking, 2016).

Gone But Not Forgotten: New England’s Ghost Towns, Cemeteries, and Memorials by Summer Paradis and Cathy McManus (Schiffer, 2013).

Graveyards of Chicago: The People, History, Art, and Lore of Cook County Cemeteries by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski (Lake Claremont Press, 1999).

Haunted Cemeteries: Creepy Crypts, Spine-Tingling Spirits, and Midnight Mayhem by Tom Ogden (Globe Pequot Press, 2010).

Metairie Cemetery: An Historical Memoir by Henri A. Gandolfo (Stewart Enterprises, 1998).

New Orleans Architecture, Volume III: The Cemeteries edited by Mary Louise Christovich (Pelican Publishing Company, 1997).

New Orleans Ghosts by Victor C. Klein (Ordo Templi Veritatis, 1996).

The Highgate Vampire: The Infernal World of the Undead Unearthed at London’s Highgate Cemetery and Environs by Sean Manchester (Gothic Press, 1991).

Weird U.S. by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman (Sterling, 2004).

Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel by Loren Rhoads (Automatism Press, forthcoming in 2017).

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die by Loren Rhoads (Black Dog/Leventhal, forthcoming in 2017).

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Cemetery of the Week #150: Hartsdale Pet Cemetery

War DogHartsdale Pet Cemetery
75 North Central Park Avenue
Hartsdale, New York 10530
Telephone: (914) 949-2583
Founded: 1896
Size: under 4 acres
Number of interments: between 80,000 and 100,000

Until the 1890s, people who had a pet die in New York City either buried it in their gardens (if they had one) or in public parks.  Out of health considerations, the city banned the burial of animals within its city limits in 1896.

After that, since it was illegal to bury animals in human graveyards, the only option when a pet died was to put the body out with the trash.

In 1896, one of the clients of New York City veterinarian Dr. Samuel K. Johnson was distraught at the thought of discarding their beloved dog that way.  Johnson allowed the dog’s burial  in his apple orchard. The idea became so popular, that Johnson eventually dedicated three acres of his land as a graveyard.

Johnson invited people to bring their deceased pets to his office on Manhattan’s 25th Street, where they could purchase a zinc-lined casket. Then they would travel 25 miles by train to the quiet village of Hartsdale in Westchester County, where Johnson’s apple orchard was filling with monuments and flower arrangements.

Hartsdale postcard

Vintage postcard of Hartsdale Dog Cemetery, circa 1927

In the early days, pet owners cared for their own cemetery plots, enclosing them with wrought-iron fences and adorning them with sculptures. When they died, moved away, or lost interest, the plots became dilapidated. That led to the incorporation of the cemetery. A full-time caretaker moved into a cottage on the property.

Monuments range from standard headstones to portrait sculptures, stone doghouses and cat baskets, and much more. The oldest surviving monument dates to 1899. It remembers Dotty, fourteen-year-old pet of E. M. Dodge.

Animals buried in Hartsdale Pet Cemetery vary from cats and dogs to horses, monkeys, rabbits, guinea pigs, goldfish, iguanas, snakes,and parakeets. One of the most exotic animals in the cemetery is a lion named Goldfleck. Princess Lwoff Parlaghy was a Hungarian artist who bought the lion cub from Ringling Brothers Circus and took him to live with her at the Plaza Hotel. After his death, he received a wake at the hotel and was buried in Hartsdale in 1912.

During World War I, thousands of dogs were trained to find wounded soldiers. The service dogs were given a monument at Hartsdale: a ten-ton boulder of granite from Barre, Vermont, topped with a bronze statue of a kerchief-wearing dog with a dented helmet at his feet. The cost of the monument was raised by donations. Police, fire, and weapons detection dogs are also buried at the cemetery. Among them are dogs who retrieved bodies after the Oklahoma City Bombing and one who worked in the World Trade Center ruins.

Although the practice of interring humans and animals together is illegal, more that 700 pet owners have chosen to have their ashes interred with their animal companions. Several of them shares gravestones with their pets.

Useful links:

Hartsdale’s website: www.petcem.com

On Atlas Obscura: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/hartsdale-pet-cemetery

On Quigley’s Cabinent: http://quigleyscabinet.blogspot.com/2012/09/pet-placement.html

My review of the Hartsdale book: https://cemeterytravel.com/2017/04/01/a-guide-to-americas-first-pet-cemetery/

My review of Permanent New Yorkers

Another resource for grieving pet owners: https://cemeterytravel.com/2017/04/03/resource-for-a-grieving-pet-owner/

 

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Resource for a Grieving Pet Owner

Good-bye My Friend: Pet Cemeteries, Memorials, and Other Ways to Remember. A collection of Thoughts, Feelings, and ResourcesGood-bye My Friend: Pet Cemeteries, Memorials, and Other Ways to Remember. A collection of Thoughts, Feelings, and Resources by Michele Lanci-Altomare

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit, I am skeptical about books about losing your pets. Having been too often subjected to “The Rainbow Bridge,” I know how quickly sentiment about pets can trigger a gag reflex. That the first edition of this book had a pastel collage of animal grave markers on its cover, along with a shockingly red sticker that proclaims it “A Lasting Gift for Anyone Who Loves Animals,” might be enough to scare away the heartiest morbid reader. That has been corrected in this edition.

Inside are 100 Polaroid transfer photographs that document pet cemeteries from London to San Diego. Lanci-Altomare, who has done solo shows of her photographs at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, has an eye for beauty, true emotion, and humor. The Polaroid transfer process gives the photos a light-struck, grainy quality reminiscent of the photo plaques washed by the sun that you find on headstones. The effect serves her subject very well.

A minor quibble is the design of the book. Rather than group the photos by graveyard—so that the reader could get a sense of place—photos of the same graveyards rise again and again, sort of like a refrain. I found it frustrating.

How’s the text? Let me give you some context. When I originally read the book, my companion of 14 years was gravely ill with bladder stones. I dragged him to the vet time and again, each time certain that he wouldn’t survive to be brought home. I passed through all the Kübler-Ross stages in preparation of putting him to sleep when the vet performed a miracle. For all my cynicism, I know how painful it is to face the death of someone with whom you’ve lived so long.

The text is very good. It ranges from historical notes about (too few) graveyards to newspaper articles about the police dogs who located bodies after the Oklahoma Federal Building bombing into explanations from cemetery owners about how and why they do their jobs. I particularly liked the piece from the Humane Society that explains how visits to the pet cemetery keep volunteers sane as they work with abandoned animals. Other highlights were stories about the cat who eased a terminally ill boy into death and the dog who greeted mourners at the pet cemetery where he worked. There’s a smattering of poetry, but it can be easily bypassed.

This is a nice little book on a topic that hasn’t been explored.

You can get your own copy on Amazon.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

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A Guide to America’s First Pet Cemetery

The Peaceable Kingdom in Hartsdale - America's First Pet CemeteryThe Peaceable Kingdom in Hartsdale – America’s First Pet Cemetery by Edward C. Martin III

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sharing the name of the centennial book about the first pet cemetery in America might have seemed clever, but it’s actually confusing. I thought I was buying an updated version of the older book, but got a new book with the same title. Which means I still need to track the older book down.

This book is well illustrated with lots of black & white photos of the pet cemetery and its people. The captions repeat the text, which I found mildly frustrating since it’s such a slim volume.

All in all, I’m glad to add this book to my collection, but I may let it go when I succeed in finally tracking down the original book. I wonder why they didn’t simply reprint, since the author of this volume is an longtime employee of the pet cemetery.

Get your own copy on Amazon.

The original book is also available on Amazon: The Peaceable Kingdom in Hartsdale: A Celebration of Pets and their People.

View all my reviews on Goodreads.

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