The mystery remains around the tomb of Molière in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris

Molière’s grave in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris (© AdobeStock)

It is one of the graves to be seen in the cemetery of Father Lachaise in Paris, in the same way as its neighbour, that of Fountain. However, the mystery remains intact concerning the remains of Moliere, whose 400th anniversary is celebrated this Saturday, January 15, 2022, just like for that of the famous poet.

No, Molière does not die on stage

The death of Molière occurs on the evening of February 17, 1673, at his home in the rue de Richelieu in Paris, and not on stage as legend would have it, when he had just played the title role for the fourth time. of his imaginary patient.

At the time, actors were automatically excommunicated and only had the right to a burial and a ceremony if they renounced their profession. Unfortunately, Molière could not receive the last rites. Finally the Archbishop of Paris accepts that the parish priest of Saint-Eustache officiates on condition that it is “without any pomp and with only two priests and outside daylight hours and that no service will be done for him, neither in the parish, or elsewhere.

Molière is therefore buried at night on February 21 in the cemetery of the Saint-Joseph chapel, located in the parish of Saint-Eustache. He will stay there until the Revolution.
Finally, on July 6, 1792, wishing to honor the ashes of great men, the revolutionary authorities had the presumed remains of Molière exhumed.

No proof for Molière, even less for La Fontaine

Finally, in 1817, the bones were recovered to be placed in Père-Lachaise. With a doubt all the same with these moves. Impossible to prove that the remains of Molière really rest in Père-Lachaise.

The case is even more complicated regarding La Fontaine. A record states that he was buried in the former Innocents Cemetery. However, the abbot of Olivet, in his History of the French Academy, wrote that he was buried “in the very place where Molière had been 22 years before”, in other words in the Saint-Joseph cemetery.

The tomb of La Fontaine, next to that of Molière in the Père-Lachaise cemetery
The tomb of La Fontaine, next to that of Molière in the Père-Lachaise cemetery (© AdobeStock)

Enough to mislead the revolutionaries who therefore looked for his remains next to those of Molière… There is therefore little chance that it is his that rest at Père-Lachaise. The poet is more likely to be in the Catacombs where all the bones were transferred when the Cemetery of the Innocents was finally closed.

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