Basilica St Denis

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 12th May 2012


Friday morning – and the heavens opened. Last December when I intended taking photos at Père Lachaise it poured with rain and once again the elements beat me.

We had to fill in five hours and keep out of the rain so I suggested a visit to the Basilica St. Denis – the Necropolis of the Kings of France. I went there last year at the suggestion of my dear friends Owen and Mireille and was absolutely overwhelmed. Although the revolutionaries took the mortal remains of the Kings and Queens from their tombs and threw them into a communal pit, the tombs themselves were saved for posterity.

I couldn’t begin to relate the complete history of this famous edifice and the magnificent tombs but I’ll give you a very potted version. It houses a collection of over 70 recumbent statues and tombs and sarcophagi, and an Ossuary in which were interred the remains cast aside by the revolutionaries. There are Kings and Queens of France right back to the time of King Dagobert who was buried here in 639 to the right of the remains of St. Denis – the Patron Saint of Paris.

Among others, the Crypt contains a very interesting section of six large black marble slabs – on two of which are the names of Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI. The Ossuary is in the crypt with panels notating the names of the Kings and Queens whose bones may be interred in the Ossuary.

I was particularly interested in the stone sarcophagus of Queen Arégonde, wife of King Clotaire who died between 580 – 590 and was the first Queen to be buried in the crypt. On opening her sarcophagus they found the remains covered in a purple silk gown and adorned with many jewels now housed in the Louvre – though you can see a photographic reproduction of a few of the pieces found there.

There are several small chapels in the Crypt – one of which is that of Bishop Suger. Suger was a great benefactor of St. Denis.

The magnificent tomb of Francois 1er (1494 - 1547) and his first wife Claude of France with three of their children


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