Pere Lachaise – 2

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy npr.org

Walking over to section 68 of Pere Lachaise, a subtle change in ambience is noticeable, that is, if one has not sacrificed that receptivity assigned to the more vulgar senses.  An association or atmosphere clings to the section:  unseen ghosts, dissipated sounds, a suffused glory which doesn’t fade.  Probably due to two of the sections’ permanent residents, both of who are composers.  Their music pervades the area, because this is where their souls were laid to rest.  And music, of course, being God’s mathematics, is a soulish exhalation. 

And I suspect that angels, who are drawn to cemeteries, especially those like Pere Lachaise, Gothic with soot and stupendous statues, come and sing to the dead.  Whole choirs of angelic beings, like twinkling lights, singing Mozart’s Mass in C Minor.  They come because angels do not die.  Fascinated by the novelty of death, they study it, croon over it, regale it.

This fascination with death explains why, in particular, the angels visit section 68, specifically.  Because of the fiery death scenes in Carmen, and the man who wrote it.

Read More


Pere Lachaise

By Christopher Zoukis  Pere Lachaise

It covers 118 acres of prime land, which would be worth several fortunes to modern developers.  Just thinking about it must cause developers to drool.  I mean what a waste of prime real estate! 

Pere Lachaise it’s called.  Victor Hugo once said, “To be buried in Pere Lachaise is like having mahogany furniture.”

The oldest cemetery in Paris, Pere Lachaise opened for business in 1804.  And did so by royal command of Napoleon Bonaparte, who was responding to a national emergency:  a lack of new burial sites.  So many dead and so little room to bury them.

Indeed, the ‘no vacancy’ problem came to Napoleon’s attention when, the relics of corpses at Cimetiere des Innocents (a cemetery in Paris), as if rising up at the Rapture, shifted, literally breaking through the wall of an apartment complex in which resided the living.  Spewing corpses into the basement of the building, along with a mist of mephitic effluvium, which practically asphixiated the residents, the incident set off government legislation closing all Parisian cemeteries and churchyards to further burials.

Nicholas Frochot, the city planner, by some mysterious means, purchased 118 acres of land from Baron Desfontaines, land that had once upon a time belonged to Louis XIV’s confessor, Pere Lachaise. 

Read More