Tag Archives: royal tomb

Cemetery of the Week #48: Kawaiaha’o Churchyard

Lava stone monument, Kawaiahao Churchyard

Kawaiaha’o Church
957 Punchbowl Street at King Street
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813-5042
Telephone: (808) 522-1333
Church founded: 1820
Oldest known burial: 1825
Size: 3 acres
Number of interments: more than 900

A product of the original Mission Church movement founded in Boston in 1819, Kawaiaha’o Church is descended from the first Christian church to be built on Oahu in 1820. The original sanctuary was thatched with grass and built by order of Kamehameha III, who also gave Reverend Hiram Bingham land nearby to build a house. That house, which Bingham had shipped around Cape Horn from Boston, survives today in the Mission Houses Museum.

The first church on Oahu was built at an oasis around a spring, which still flows, in the midst of what was then a desert. The spring was cared for by a Hawaiian High Chiefess named Ha’o, so the church’s Hawaiian name means “water of Ha’o.” To this day, the church offers services in the Hawaiian language.

Excavation of the present church’s foundation began in 1838. Sometime prior to this, Hawaiian divers began to quarry 14,000 blocks of ocean coral, each weighing up to 1,000 pounds. These were loaded into canoes and ferried to Honolulu, where Hawaiians constructed the New England-style church to Bingham’s specifications. The dedication service took place in 1842.

Along with Christianity, the missionaries brought a tradition of marked burials inside a fenced churchyard. Early converts could not afford tombstones. A 2006 story in the Honolulu Star Bulletin estimated that there were at least 200 unmarked gravesites in the churchyard. At that time, 600 bodies had been already identified. The remaining 296 headstones may mark the graves of more than one person, according to cemetery historian Nanette Napoleon Purnell.

The Royal Mausoleum, Kawaiahao Churchyard

One of the oldest Western-style burial grounds in Hawaii, Kawaiaha’o Churchyard serves as the final resting place of King Lunalilo. His tomb, one of the earliest concrete block buildings in Hawaii, stands near his mother’s grave on the northwest side of the churchyard. Lunalilo was invested as king at Kawaiaha’o Church in 1873, after Kamehameha V died without naming an heir. Lunalilo served only 13 months before dying of tuberculosis, a disease brought to the islands by outsiders.

Among the graves in the churchyard lie several missionaries, including Hiram Bingham Jr., who was born nearby and who authored a native language dictionary, as well as a translation of the Bible.

Another missionary, James Kekela (also known as Kekela O Ka Lani), became the first Hawaiian Christian minister when he was ordained in 1849. In 1853, he went as a pioneer missionary to the Marquesas Islands where, for 49 years, he preached against cannibalism and tribal warfare. President Abraham Lincoln recognized him in 1861 for rescuing an American seaman from cannibals.

Also buried in Kawaiaha’o Churchyard is Sanford Ballard Dole, who orchestrated the overthrow of Queen Liliukolani and the end of the Hawaiian monarchy. Dole served as President of the Republic of Hawaii between 1894 and 1898, when he became Governor of the Hawaiian Territory after its annexation by the United States. His cousin James founded the Dole Pineapple Company and is buried on Maui.

Somewhere amongst the unmarked graves lies David Douglas, for whom the Douglas Fir is named. He worked as a botanist for the Hudson Bay Company, cataloging plants in the Northwest. He came to Hawaii in 1833 to study its plants and fell to his death in a pit dug for capturing wild animals. A plaque on the church wall is dedicated to his memory.

Surviving tombstones in the churchyard bear Hawaiian names as well as Haole (white) names, with origins as far away as Ireland, England, Germany, and Nova Scotia, or as close as Lahaina (Maui) or Kona (the “Big Island” of Hawaii).

Despite the church being considered Hawaii’s “Westminster Abbey” — because Hawaiian monarchs, chiefs, and their families attended the Kawaiaha’o Congregational Church’s services, were married there, and laid in state there — and appearing on the original National Register of Historic Places, the churchyard has not been accorded similar respect.

In 2006, a public board meeting convened to discuss demolishing an old structure and the possibility of exhuming remains in order to build a wedding reception area over part of the churchyard. Construction halted in 2009 after 69 sets of remains had been unearthed, but crews continued again in 2011. As of last week, two lawsuits remain unsettled and the project is in limbo.

According to a 1/13/12 story in the Honolulu Civil Beat, “The church argued that the burial remains, discovered during construction, are exempt from the state’s Native Hawaiian burial law because the remains are Christian burials of Hawaiians located primarily in a church cemetery.” If I read that correctly, it’s saying that these people stopped being Native Hawaiians when they became Christian.

Kawaiahao Churchyard

Useful links:

Kawaiaha’o Church’s website

Satellite map of the church and its surroundings

A news story about the unknown dead buried in Kawaiahao Churchyard

An overview of all Honolulu’s cemeteries

Other Hawaiian cemeteries on Cemetery Travel:

Week #3: Seamen’s Cemetery in Lahaina, Maui

Week #44:  USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Oahu

Weekly Photo Challenge: Old Fashioned

The grave of Richard the Lionheart’s heart

Although he was king of England, Crusader Richard the Lionheart spent very little time in England — and did not, in fact, speak English.  He grew up at his mother’s court in Aquitane, in Southern France.  All in all, Richard spent only six months of his 10-year reign in England.

In 1199, he was shot by a crossbow bolt while besieging the castle of Chalus-Chabrol.  The wound became toxic and he died, leaving his kingdom to his brother John (who later signed the Magna Carta).

Richard wanted his entrails buried at Chalus and his body buried at the foot of his father’s tomb in Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou.  His heart he bequeathed to the city of Rouen, which had always remained faithful to him.

After the Funeral:  Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses reports that “His exceptionally large heart was encased in a silver casket.”  That casket was donated to ransom St. Louis from the Saracens in 1250.  The heart it had contained disappeared for centuries, then turned up in 1838 in a lead box marked, “Hic jacet cor Ricardi Regis Anglorum.”

If all that is true, I’m not sure what actually lies in the tomb in Rouen’s Cathedral de Notre-Dame.  Its inscription reads, “Hic cor conditum est Ricardi Anglorum Regis qui Cor Leonis dictus.”  Roughly, that’s “Here lies the heart of the English king Richard, called Lionheart.”

The tomb looks like a medieval grave, complete with the clean-shaven monarch resting his crowned head on a stone pillow, broken sword lying on his breast, and his feet against a crouching lion.  I believe that signifies he died in battle.  It’s a wonderful old-fashioned monument, whatever lies within.

The effigy where his body lies at Fontevraud shows him as bearded.  You can see the photo comparison here.

My review of After the Funeral is here.

Other Rouen gravesites on Cemetery Travel:

Cemetery of the Week #23: Aître Saint Maclou

Joan of Arc

A guide to Napoleon’s tomb

Napoleon's TombNapoleon’s Tomb by Celine Gautier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked up this beautifully illustrated little guidebook at the gift counter in Paris’s Church of the Dome, the place where Napoleon found his final rest. The guidebook doesn’t seem to be available online in English, although Amazon.fr has the original language version for sale. If you want the English version I review below, you’ll have to travel to Paris yourself. I can promise it will be worth the trip.

The booklet was written by Celine Gautier, head of the communication department at the Musee de l’Armee, which oversees the shrine. It was published in conjunction with Napoleon 1er magazine; it boggles my mind that there is a magazine solely focused on one period in French history.

The booklet begins with the repatriation of Napoleon’s body from his grave on St. Helena 19 years after his death. After his remains returned to Paris, they waited 20 more years for a resting place that could be considered worthy. Sections detail the contest which chose the tomb’s design, describe the elements and expense that make it what it is today, and examine the reliefs and sculptures that illustrate Napoleon’s less controversial achievements.

The only part of the book that I felt was lacking was the explanation of the “Imperial Necropolis.” Napoleon doesn’t sleep alone in his tomb. At the least, I could have used portraits to illustrate the capsule biographies of the “heroes” enshrined here. The single page of text hardly does justice to them, especially since their monuments are spectacular enough to have rated documentation here.

Other than that, this is a good overview of what goes into building a tomb fit for an emperor.

View all my reviews

Cemetery of the Week #20: Napoleon’s Tomb

Napoleon’s sarcophagus from the crypt

Napoleon’s Tomb
Hôtel National des Invalides
Esplanade des Invalides
129 rue de Grenelle
75007 Paris, France
Telephone: 1 44 42 38 77
Tomb completed: 1861
Number of burials, some of them partial: approximately 20
Open: Every day at 10 a.m. Closing hours vary with the season from 5 to 7 p.m.
Admission: 9 €. Children under 18 are free. Discounts are available to war veterans, groups with prior reservation, for late admissions, or with the Paris Visite card. The admission fee also gets you into the Musée de l’Armée to see Napoleon’s original headstone, his death mask, and his favorite horse, who has been taxidermied.

During his reign as emperor, Napoleon began repairs to the crypt of the Basilica of St. Denis, where he intended to eventually repose amidst the monuments to the historic kings of France. The kings themselves had been exiled to mass graves during the Revolution, so they no longer lay beneath the monuments disfigured by revolutionary sledgehammers. Even so, their former presence sanctified the place in the emperor’s mind.

Of course, Napoleon died in lonely exile on St. Helena, where he was buried in 1821 “close to a spring in the shadow of a few weeping willows.” In 1840, his remains, enclosed in an ebony coffin, were finally repatriated to Paris. He lay in state at Les Invalides for ten days. In February of the following year, he was moved into St. Jerome’s chapel in the Church of the Dome. He would wait 20 years for his final resting place to be ready.

Formerly, Napoleon himself had been interested in rehabilitating the Eglise du Dome, which was originally commissioned by Louis XIV to serve as a royal chapel so he could attend mass at the same time as the soldiers wounded in his service, who sat on the opposite side of an ornate wrought iron gate in the adjoining Church of St. Louis.

During the Revolution, when religion was anathema, the Church of the Dome had been ransacked. Afterward, it was made over into the Temple of Victory, then again as the Temple of Mars. In order to consecrate the building to the honor of those who’d died after serving France, Napoleon sponsored the “translation” of the body of Turenne (who died in 1675 while leading the French army during the Dutch Wars). Marshall Vauban (d. 1707) followed.

Now, in addition to the heroes of the past, the Emperor has a fair amount of company in his mortuary church. Two of his brothers and his son lie there, along with World War I Marshall Ferdinand Foch and Louis Lyautey, who served mainly in Morocco. Two of Napoleon’s closest aides guard the entrance to his tomb.  Nearby lie victims of an assassination attempt on King Louis Philippe in 1835.

Napoleon alone lies inside an open crypt sunk into the Royal Chapel’s floor. Above him, the cupola rises 90 meters, making the dome the second highest landmark in Paris (after the Eiffel Tower). He rests inside five coffins made of oak, mahogany, lead, tin, and ebony. His sarcophagus, often reported to be porphyry, is actually carved from aventurine quartzite, quarried in what is now Finland by order of Tsar Nicolas I. The five-meter-high sarcophagus stands on a base of green granite from the Vosges Mountains in eastern France.

It is a spectacular grave, not to be missed.

PS. My apologies for missing last week’s update. I was in the field, doing research.

Useful links:

The official website (in English)

Rick Steve’s Guide to Paris has helpful maps to guide you around Napoleon’s tomb and the adjacent Musée de l’Armée.

Hôtel National des Invalides and Napoleon’s Tomb

Frommer’s review

My review of a guidebook to Napoleon’s Tomb

Other solo tombs on Cemetery Travel:

Cemetery of the Week #11: General Grant National Monument in New York City, New York

Cemetery of the Week #32: the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, Italy