Campaign of the Month: August 2011
Le Ballet de l'Acier
Cimetière des Saints Innocents
Les Innocents, as this cemetery is known, is the burial site for most common Parisians. The site has been used for interment since the eleventh century. With parish cemeteries filled to capacity throughout the city, the Bishops of Paris in the fourteenth century decreed that those wishing to be buried on consecrated ground within the city must be buried at Les Innocents, thereby collecting lucrative burial fees as well.
Though the cemetary once included individual sepulchres, today the dead are interred in mass graves, hundreds at a time; the deceased is placed in a coffin with a false bottom, and on the conclusion of the burial ceremony, the body is released through the bottom of the coffin into the pit. After the bodies decompose, the bones are exhumed and transferred to the charniers (aboveground crypts) constructed along the edge of the burial ground.
The stench of the enormous grave site is a blight on the surrounding neighborhoods.