What ? Who ? How? ‘Or’ What ? The 3 things to know about the Pantheon


This Tuesday is celebrated the entry into the Pantheon of the Franco-American artist Joséphine Baker. But what exactly is the Pantheon? Who is buried there? Who decides on the “pantheonizations”? Response elements.

the monument proper was built between 1757 and 1790, by the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot. At the origin of the project, the king Louis XV, who wanted to rebuild thechurch Sainte Geneviève, named after the patron saint of Paris.

When French Revolution, there is no longer any question of the building being a church: the monument becomes a mausoleum for personalities who have marked the history of France.

The building will successively become again a place of Catholic worship under the First Empire (1804-1814), then under the Second Empire (1851-1870), before being definitively a secular monument under the Third Republic.

Who is buried there?

It was in 1791 that it was decided to collect in this place the remains of the “great men” of France.

There are civilian figures; the “illustrious” soldiers are buried in the military Pantheon of Invalides.

To date, the Pantheon accommodates seventy-five men and five women.

  • Political figures : Sadi Carnot (entered the Panthéon in 1894), Léon Gambetta (1920), Jean Jaurès (1924), Adolphe-Sylvestre-Félix Éboué and Victor Schœlcher (1949), Jean Monnet (1988), Simone Veil (2018) …
  • Resistance : Jean Moulin (1964), Germaine Tillion, Jean Zay, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz and Pierre Brossolette (2015) …
  • Writers : Jean-Jacques Rousseau (entered the Panthéon in 1794), Victor Hugo (1885), Emile Zola (1908), André Malraux (1996), Alexandre Dumas (2002), Maurice Genevoix (2020) …
  • Scientists : Paul Langevin and Jean Perrin (1948), Pierre and Marie Curie (1995) …

Josephine baker becomes the 81st personality to be “pantheonized” (and only the 6th woman).

How do you get there?

In 1791, it had been decided that only the National Assembly could judge which men could “enter” the Pantheon. Napoleon I then arrogated to himself this prerogative.
Under the Third Republic, the deputies again seized this “right”.
Since the advent of the Fifth Republic in 1958, it is the President of the Republic who decides who enters the Pantheon.

The chosen personality is believed to embody the values ​​and ideals of the French Republic, which is both precise and vague.
There is no text setting the exact criteria for entering the Pantheon (age, period of history, areas of expertise, etc.)
No document indicates that one must be of French nationality.
In fact, the choice is left to the appreciation of the Head of State.

The President of the Republic, once his choice has been made, consults the descendants of the personality. These may oppose a “pantheonization“, which then blocks the process. It also happens that certain personalities are” pantheonized “without being buried in the crypt: this is the case of Aimé Césaire or Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz.
It is by decree, signed by the Head of State, that entry to the Pantheon is guaranteed.
The ceremony takes place several weeks or several months later, time to complete the preparations.


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