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The French Cemetery of Rome at Monte Mario

Death, in Rome’s French cemetery, does not divide but unites. Catholics, Muslims and Jews rest side by side, reminding us of the inherent fragility of life and the universality of grief. A message of brotherhood that, while obvious, resonates powerfully in this place steeped in sacrifice.

But unfortunately, it is difficult to convey this message to those who, blinded by hatred and power, sow death and destruction. So is getting those who trample it so brutally to understand the value of life.

The French cemetery in Rome, with its silent eloquence, offers no easy solutions. But it does invite us to reflect, to meditate on the meaning of existence and the folly of war. A warning that, perhaps, may one day awaken consciences and lead to a world of peace.

Rome’s French Cemetery remembers the war of those who built peace

The French Cemetery of Rome stands along the busy Via della Camilluccia that connects Monte Mario to the Farnesina area. The land to build it was granted by royal decree in 1945 by De Gasperi, then still Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy.

A tribute by the Italian government to the French troops who fought with Italian troops against the Nazi-Fascist occupation.

A quiet and peaceful place despite the hustle and bustle of the city

Of some 7,000 soldiers from beyond the Alps who fell in this phase of the war, some bodies have returned home. Of the 1888 soldiers buried today in the French cemetery in Rome, 1142 are Muslims, recognizable by the Islamic crescent engraved on each headstone.

So, in addition to the French, there are many Moroccans, Tunisians and Algerians belonging to that army. The Moroccan soldiers employed by the French between 1908 and 1956 were called “Goumiers”.

Their passage through Italy involved a large number of crimes: murders, looting and more than 7,000 rapes, later remembered as the so-called “marocchinate”immortalized in De Sica’s masterpiece “La ciociara.”

The end of the occupation and Pope Francis’ visit on November 2, 2021

After the Allied landings at Anzio in January 1944, these troops collaborated to resolve the Monte Cassino blockade. In May French tanks forced the Germans to surrender. Then the Allied offensive continued to advance, and on June five Generals Clark, British, and Juin, French, entered Rome. The historical echo of so much violence seeks in the green atmosphere of the cemetery to be muted, even as Europe is once again shaken by a dramatic war today.

In 2021, the Mass for the Commemoration of the Dead celebrated by the Pontiff was held in the French Military Cemetery. After gathering in prayer at an anonymous grave, he delivered a series of reflections on the anonymity of some gravestones during his homily. “Inconnu.

Mort pour la France. 1944,” the Holy Father said, ”some [graves] have names, a few others do not. But these graves are a message of peace: ‘Stop, brothers and sisters, stop! Stop, weapons makers, stop!’” The pope’s appeal resonates today, one year after that visit, with renewed tragic significance.

The war cemetery speaks to all men, without division

This place is relatively little known to Romans but is highly symbolic for France. It has previously hosted November 11 commemorations even though they commemorate the end bob the Second but the First World War.

With respect for the historical memory of the individual wars, and the episodes of each, war cemeteries should represent invocations for peace for all. The stillness, the silence, the manicured greenery are there to help the concentration and thinking of those who visit them.

Reflecting on death, violence, separation between states, peoples and countrymen should help people understand the value and fragility of life. Contact with nature should be purposeful for thinking about the nature of man.

To conclude with Pope Francis, on the same occasion mentioned above, he recalled what he had read in a cemetery in northern Italy. “You who pass think about your steps and of your steps think about the last step.”

With the Blog of Rome and Latium Region, Around Rome guides you to discover the territories for the pleasure of satisfying curiosity and putting culture at the service of people and businesses.

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Edited by il NETWORK | text Andrea Franchiniphoto Ezio Bocci

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