Saints Innocents Cemetery, Paris

France (Wikipedia)

Although Lister did not mention Saints Innocents Cemetary in his pocketbook or memoirs, his fellow traveller Philip Skippon wrote:

S. Innocent’s church-yard hath many charnell houses round about, and it is observable that none of the graves there are digg’d much above one foot and an half deep, and yet the flesh of the dead bodies is suddenly consumed by the earth, which is of a chalky nature.  When they make new graves, they sometimes meet with whole coffins, but the flesh quite consumed within.

The cemetery, used until the eighteenth century, is now defunct, the bodies transferred to the Montparnasse Catacombs in 1786.  The charniers above the arcades on top of the walls around the Cimetière were said to hold the bones of a million individuals, and there ‘lovers held their trysts, preachers preached, and merchants hawked their wares’. 1  The Fountain of the Nymphs (now known as the Fountain of the Innocents) which had been built near the cemetery church is still extant and still stands on the place Joachim-du-Bellay.


Back to top

  1. Donald Reid, Paris Sewers and Sewermen: Realities and Representations (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 16.

Comments are closed.