Pantheonized in the Paris Pantheon

Pantheonized in the Paris Pantheon.

The Paris Pantheon is the burial place of France’s honoured citizens. To be pantheonised is to be entombed there. Pantheonised is not strictly the correct word, but it seems nouns become verbs these days. The pantheonisations – another verb for the act of being interred – don’t occur very often, but most occurred during Napoleon’s rule during the First French Empire.

There are not a lot of people entombed in the Pantheon – 87 currently (to the end of 2020), mainly men, but also five women. Victor Hugo (1802-1885), the novelist who wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831) and Les Miserables (1862) is buried in the Pantheon. So are Voltaire (1694-1778), Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), Emile Zola (1840-1902), Pierre Curie (185901906), and Marie Curie (1867-1934). 

There was one pantheonisation in 2020 – on 11 November. It was French author Maurice Genevoix (1890-1980), most noted for his 1949 novel Ceux de 14 (The Men of 1914) and Raboliot (1925). It is not uncommon for people to be interred in the Pantheon years after their death – in fact, it is most common. Alexandre Dumas, author of The Three Musketeers (1844) and The Count of Monte Cristo (1845), was pantheonised in 2002 – 1932 years after his death.

Located in the Latin Quartier of the 5th arrondissement, it was the first major monument in the city, even before the Eiffel Tower. Its construction started in 1758 under the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot (1713-1780) and it was completed in 1790 by his student, Jean-Baptiste Rondelet (1743-1829).

The domed Gothic-Greek building is designed in the shape of a Greek cross, and is 110 metres (360 feet) long and 84 metres (275 feet) wide. The front façade had Corinthian columns with a triangular pediment, designed by David d’Angers. Its dome is 83 metres (272 feet) high. King Louis XV of France commissioned the building, initially as a church, to honour Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. She led the resistance to the Huns in 451. 

The dome is really three domes that fit within each other. The first and the second dome can be seen from inside the monument, and the third dome is visible from the outside.  

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