Sightseeing in France: Cemetery of the guillotined victims of terror

Picpus cemetery

The Picpus Cemetery ( French : Cimetière de Picpus , [pik.pys] ) is the largest private cemetery in Paris , France , located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris . It was built from land seized from the monastery of Chanans de Saint-Augustin during the French Revolution . Just minutes from where the guillotine was installed, it contains 1,306 victims executed between June 14 and July 27, 1794, at the height of the reign of terror . Today, only the descendants of these 1306 victims may be buried in the Pippus Cemetery. [1]

The Picpus Cemetery is one of two private cemeteries in Paris, the other being the ancient Cimetière des Juifs Portugais de Paris in the 19th arrondissement of Paris .

The Picpus cemetery is located next to the small chapel of Notre-Dame de la Paix (“Our Lady of Peace”), run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The priests of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts are called “Fathers of Picpus” because of the order’s origins in the street. It contains a small fifteenth-century sculpture of the Vierge de la Paix that is believed to have cured King Louis XIV of a serious illness on August 16, 1658 [2].

The toponym is thought to derive from the French pique-puce , “flea bite”, because it was used by local monks to treat skin diseases that caused wounds resembling fleas. [3] [4]

The cemetery is of special interest to American visitors because it also contains the grave of the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), over which the American flag always hangs. [5]

Contents

Location [ edit ]

The entrance to the cemetery is at 35 rue de Picpus in the 12th arrondissement . It can be visited during the day every day except Sundays and holidays, usually from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm (entrance fee: 2 euros). Chapel of Our Lady of Peace is located at the entrance to the cemetery. The nearest metro stations in Paris are Nation and Picpus .

Reign of Terror [ edit ]

During the French Revolution, the guillotine was installed in the Place de la Nation , then called Place du Tron Renverset. Between June 13 and July 28, during a period known as “the reign of terror,” up to 55 people per day were executed.

The Revolutionary Tribunal needed a quick but anonymous way to dispose of the bodies. The cemetery is only five minutes from the Place de la Nation.

At the end of the garden, a pit was dug into which the decapitated bodies of noblemen and nuns, grocers and soldiers, workers and innkeepers were thrown. A second pit was dug when the first was buried.

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The names of those buried in the two common pits, 1,306 men and women, are inscribed on the walls of the chapel. Of the 1109 men, there were 108 noblemen, 108 churchmen, 136 monks (gens de robe), 178 military men and 579 commoners. There were 197 women buried here, 51 of whom were nobles, 23 nuns and 123 commoners. The bloodshed came to an end when Robespierre himself was beheaded and the garden was closed.

Among the women, 16 Carmelite nuns ranging in age from 29 to 78 were led to the guillotine together, singing hymns as they were led to the scaffold, an incident recalled in Poulenc’s opera “Dialogues of the Carmelites” . In 1906 they were beatified as the Martyrs of Compiègne.

Post-Revolution [ edit ]

In 1797, under the Directory, the land was secretly purchased by Princess Amalia Zephyrin of Salm-Kirburg, whose brother Frederick III, Prince of Salm-Kirburg, was buried in one of the mass graves. In 1803, when Napoleon was first consul, a group of aristocratic family members bought the remaining land and built a second cemetery next to the mass graves.

At a meeting held in 1802, the underwriters appointed 11 of them to form a committee:

    , née L. D. de Noailles, president.
  1. Mr. Aymar de Nicolai, née Barville.
  2. Widow of Madame Fréteau, née Moreau, née Adrienne de Noailles
  3. Mme. Titone, née Bintero
  4. Mme. Fodoa, née de Bernières
  5. Madame Charton, née Chauchat
  6. Theodule M. de Grammont.

Many of these noble families still use the cemetery as a burial place.

Marquis de Lafayette [ edit ]

The most famous tomb, probably Picpus Cemetery is that of Lafayette, a French aristocrat and general who was a close friend of many American Founding Fathers, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson and John Lawrence, and fought in the Continental Army even before France officially entered the American War of Independence . He died in 1834 of natural causes (pneumonia) at the age of 76, and an American flag always flies over his grave, courtesy of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). [6] He is buried next to his wife, Adrienne de Lafayette, whose sister, mother, and grandmother were among those beheaded and thrown into a common pit. The soil covering the grave is that which Lafayette brought to France from Bunker Hill in Charlestown, Boston-the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill , one of the most brilliant early battles of the American War of Independence ; In 1825, on the 50th anniversary of the battle, Lafayette laid the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill monument .

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On July 4, 1917, three months after the United States entered World War I on the side of France and its allies, U.S. Army Colonel Charles E. Stanton visited the general’s grave. Colonel Stanton planted the American flag, uttering the famous phrase, “Lafayette, we are here.

America has joined forces with the Allied Powers, and what we have of blood and treasure belongs to you. So it is with loving pride that we dye our colors in homage to this citizen of your great republic. And here and now, in the presence of the distinguished dead, we vow with all our hearts and honor to bring this war to a successful conclusion. Lafayette, we are here.

Every Fourth of July, members of the DAR, the Cincinnati Society, and representatives of the U.S. Embassy gather at Lafayette’s grave for a celebration. [8]

Jewish Burial Grounds [ edit ]

In 1852, financier James Mayer de Rothschild built a hospital and hospice next to the cemetery, at 76 Rue de Picp. Originally intended to treat Jewish patients, Rothschild’s hospital was transformed into a general hospital available to all during World War I [9].

During the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II, French, Polish, and German Jews were rounded up and sent to the Drancy internment camp north of Paris. [10] Pregnant women, the seriously ill, and children were sent to the Rothschild Hospital, which became an extension of Camp Drancy, fully guarded and surrounded by barbed wire. [9]

Under the collusion of Vichy France with Nazi Germany, her patients who survived their illnesses were deported to concentration camps. Of the 61,000 people from Drancy sent to the camps, only 1,542 remained alive when Allied troops liberated the camps in 1944. [11] There is a special plaque in the Pikpus Cemetery dedicated to their memory.

Picpus Cemetery

The Picpus Cemetery ( French : Cimetière de Picpus , [pik.pys] ) is the largest private cemetery in Paris , France , located in the 12th arrondissement of Paris . It was built from land seized from the monastery of Chanans de Saint-Augustin during the French Revolution . Just minutes from where the guillotine was installed, it contains 1,306 victims executed between June 14 and July 27, 1794, the height and last phase of the reign of terror . Today, only the descendants of these 1,306 victims may be buried in the Pickpuppu Cemetery.

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The Picpus cemetery is one of two private cemeteries in Paris, the other being the old Cimetière des Juifs Portugais de Paris (Portuguese Jewish cemetery of Paris) in the 19th arrondissement of Paris .

The Picpus Cemetery is located next to the small chapel of Notre-Dame de la Paix (“Our Lady of Peace”), run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart. The priests of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts are called “Fathers of Picpus” because of the order’s origins in the street. It contains a small 15th-century sculpture, the Vierge de la Paix, which is believed to have cured King Louis XIV of a severe illness on August 16, 1658.

The toponym is thought to be derived from the French pique-puce, “flea bite”, because the local monks used to cure skin diseases that caused wounds similar to fleas.

The cemetery is of particular interest to American visitors because it also contains the tomb of the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), over which the American flag always hangs.

CONTENTS

Location.

The entrance to the cemetery is at 35 rue de Picpus in the 12th arrondissement . It can be visited in the afternoon every day except Sundays and holidays, usually from 2 to 4 p.m. (entrance fee: 2 euros). Chapel of Our Lady of Peace is located at the entrance to the cemetery. The nearest metro stations in Paris are Nation and Picpus .

Terror

During the French Revolution, the guillotine was installed in the Place de la Nation , then called Place du Tron Renverset. Between June 13 and July 28, during a period known as “the reign of terror,” up to 55 people per day were executed.

The Revolutionary Tribunal needed a quick but anonymous way to dispose of the bodies. The cemetery is only five minutes from the Place de la Nation.

At the end of the garden, a pit was dug into which the decapitated bodies of noblemen and nuns, grocers and soldiers, workers and innkeepers were thrown. A second pit was dug when the first was buried.

The names of those buried in the two common pits, 1,306 men and women, are inscribed on the walls of the chapel. Of the 1109 men, there were 108 noblemen, 108 churchmen, 136 monks (gens de robe), 178 military men and 579 commoners. There were 197 women buried here, 51 of whom were nobles, 23 nuns and 123 commoners. The bloodshed came to an end when Robespierre himself was beheaded and the garden was closed.

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Among the women, 16 Carmelite nuns ranging in age from 29 to 78 were led to the guillotine together, singing hymns as they were led to the scaffold, an incident recalled in Poulenc’s opera Dialogues of the Carmelites . In 1906 they were beatified as the Martyrs of Compiègne.

Post-Revolutionary

In 1797, under the Directory, the land was secretly purchased by Princess Amalia Zephyrin of Salm-Kirburg, whose brother Frederick III, Prince of Salm-Kirburg, was buried in one of the mass graves. In 1803, when Napoleon was first consul, a group of aristocratic family members bought the remaining land and built a second cemetery next to the mass graves.

At a meeting held in 1802, the underwriters appointed 11 of them to form a committee:

  1. Madame Montague , née L. D. de Noailles, president.
  2. Mr. Aymar de Nicolai.
  3. Mme. Rebourg, née Barville.
  4. Widow of Madame Fréteau, née Moreau
  5. Mme. de la Fayette, née Adrienne de Noailles
  6. Mme. Titone, née Bintero
  7. Mme. Fodoa, née de Bernières
  8. Madame Charton, née Chauchat
  9. Theodule M. de Grammont.

Many of these noble families still use the cemetery as a burial place.

Marquis de Lafayette

The most famous tomb, probably Picpus Cemetery, is that of Lafayette, a French aristocrat and general who was a close friend of many American Founding Fathers, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson and John Lawrence, and fought in the Continental Army even before France officially entered the American War of Independence. He died in 1834 of natural causes (pneumonia) at the age of 76, and an American flag always flies over his grave, courtesy of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). He is buried next to his wife, Adrienne de Lafayette, whose sister, mother and grandmother were among those beheaded and thrown into a common pit. The soil covering the grave is that which Lafayette brought to France from Bunker Hill in Charlestown, Boston-the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill, one of the most striking early battles of the American War of Independence ; In 1825, on the 50th anniversary of the battle, Lafayette laid the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill monument.

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In response to France’s gift of the Statue of Liberty, American diplomat Robert John Thompson sponsored a nationwide subscription to erect an equestrian statue of La Fayette over his grave on the occasion of the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris . The project was commissioned to sculptor Paul Wayland Bartlett , but he missed the 1900 deadline, and his equestrian statue of La Fayette [ fr ] was eventually erected in 1908 in the central square of the Louvre Palace . It was moved in 1985 to its present location on the Cour la Rhine in preparation for the reconstruction of the Grand Louvre .

On July 4, 1917, three months after the United States entered World War I on the side of France and its allies, U.S. Army Colonel Charles Stanton visited the general’s tomb. Colonel Stanton planted the American flag, uttering the famous phrase, “Lafayette, we are here.

America has joined forces with the Allied Powers, and what we have of blood and treasure belongs to you. So it is with loving pride that we dye our colors in homage to this citizen of your great republic. And here and now, in the presence of distinguished dead men, we swear with all our heart and honor to bring this war to a successful conclusion. Lafayette, we are here.

Every Fourth of July, members of the DAR, the Cincinnati Society and representatives of the U.S. Embassy gather at Lafayette’s grave to celebrate.

Jewish Burial Grounds

In 1852, financier James Mayer de Rothschild built a hospital and hospice next door to the cemetery, at 76 Rue de Picp. Originally intended to treat Jewish patients, Rothschild’s hospital was transformed into a general hospital available to all during World War I.

During the Nazi occupation of Paris during World War II, French, Polish, and German Jews were rounded up and sent to the Drancy internment camp north of Paris. Pregnant women, the seriously ill, and children were sent to the Rothschild Hospital, which became an extension of Camp Drancy, fully guarded and surrounded by barbed wire.

Under the collusion of Vichy France with Nazi Germany, its patients who survived their illnesses were deported to concentration camps. Of the 61,000 from Drancy sent to the camps, only 1,542 survived when Allied troops liberated the camps in 1944. There is a special plaque dedicated to their memory in the Pikpus Cemetery.

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