From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

'World's Largest Grave'

Les Innocents Cemetery circa 1550   (Public Domain)
Many historians would say that the French Revolution caused the greatest upheaval within Paris.

Literal-minded folks might instead pick the Catacombs. These “underground ossuaries” are actually part of a larger network of tunnels.  The tunnels were formed when limestone was mined long ago.

When Parisian cemeteries began "overflowing," and Parisian mines began  collapsing, creativity ensued.  Long-dead bodies were exhumed from medieval burial sites such as Les Innocents and transferred into defunct mines.

The bones were “disorganized” until renovations began in 1810.  Skulls and femurs were then stacked into today’s recognizable patterns.  “Skeletal deformities” were displayed in a separate room. Cemetery decorations that had survived the plunder of 1789 were also included.

Public visitors can now access part of the Catacombs through a former city gate.  They are greeted by a sign which warns:  Stop!  This is the Empire of the Dead.  


Copyright June 14, 2017 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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