The powers that be of French Institutions did something surprising a couple of months again. The hallowed floors and ceilings of the Panthéon were opened by to the French photographer JR to play with as he wished. Shock, horror! “They let him do this?” was my daughter’s incredulous response when she saw it. By this, she was referring to the large black and white photos of faces that have been used to cover the entire floor of the Panthéon and the ceilings below the dome. It looks amazing just because one realises that, this is after all the Panthéon that has its walls covered in this manner.
A mausoleum that contains the remains of 73 distinguished French citizens, from writers to scientists. The crypt below holds the remains of the likes of Voltaire, Emile Zola, and Marcellin Berthelot with his wife Madame Sophie Beethelot, one of only two women along with Marie Curie buried there. Marie Curie was the second woman buried there, but the first to be honoured for her own merits.
It is no wonder the motto reads: To Great Men, A Grateful Country. This issue that was opened up to debate last year, with a call for this resting place to be opened up to more women. Public polls were taken and suggestions made, but the decision to make any changes was delayed. It was later announced that two additional women Germaine Tillion and Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz – both French Resistance Fighters would find their place amongst the great men. The induction is scheduled for May 2015. Well, as the French say, on verra – we’ll see.
There is currently an exhibition on Jean Jaurès – former French politician and Socialist Party leader.
|“To Great Men, A Grateful Country”|