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Archaeologist Makes Chilling Find in Walls of French Chapel

Guillotine victims apparently buried there, not in the catacombs as believed
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2020 9:50 AM CDT
Updated Jul 4, 2020 7:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – The administrator of a historic chapel in France noticed the walls were looking odd in places, and he called in an archaeologist to take a professional look. The reason for the anomalies is a dark one, dating back to the French Revolution: It appears that up to 500 victims of the guillotines are buried in the walls of Chapelle Expiatoire, or Expiatory Chapel, reports the Telegraph. The discovery is causing quite a stir in France, because it has always been believed the bodies were in the Paris catacombs, per the Guardian. Perhaps the most famous person believed to be in the chapel is Maximilien Robespierre, described by the Guardian as an architect of what came to be known as the Reign of Terror.

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"Until now, the chapel served only as a monument to the memory of the royal family, but we have just discovered that it is also a necropolis of the revolution,” says chapel administrator Aymeric Peniguet de Stoutz. The archaeologist he summoned inserted a camera through stones in the wall and saw "four ossuaries made of wooden boxes, probably stretched out with leather, filled with human bones,” he wrote in his report. Further exploration will now take place. The chapel was commissioned in 1814 by Louis XVIII and dedicated to the memory of his brother Louis XVI and his brother's wife, Marie Antoinette. Both were guillotined and buried in Madeleine Cemetery, where the chapel was erected. Their remains were eventually moved to the Basilica of Saint-Denis. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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