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The Russian Necropolis of Sainte Geneviève des Bois

The Russian necropolis includes on the one hand the Orthodox Church of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God and Virgin Mary, its outbuildings and its garden, and on the other hand the Russian Orthodox tombs of the municipal cemetery of Sainte Geneviève des Bois.

The origin of the cemetery comes from the elderly Russian emigrants at the "Maison Russe" at the Château de la Cossonerie located 500 meters from the cemetery, who were buried there starting in 1927, prompting the municipality of Sainte Geneviève des Bois to create a “Russian square” within the municipal cemetery. The latter was included in the inventory of picturesque sites of the Essonne department in 1979 and in the inventory of historical monuments in 2001. With more than 5,200 Orthodox tombs where 11,600 deceased are buried, the Russian necropolis of Sainte Geneviève des Bois is the largest Russian cemetery abroad.

A good proportion of the elite of 20th century Russia is buried there, such as dancers and choreographers Rudoph Nureyev, Serge Lifar, Préobrajenskaya, .., writers and poets including the Nobel Prize for Literature Ivan Bounine, Merezhkovsky, Boris Zaitsev, Zinaida Gyppius, Nadejda Teffi, painters and sculptors like Dmitri Stelletsky, Zinaida Serebriakova, ..., philosophers and religious thinkers like the PRs Serge Boulgakov, Wassili Zenkovsky and Nicolas Afanassieff, Anton Kartachev, Nicolas and Wladimir Lossky, men of Church like Metropolitan Euloge, founder of the Russian Orthodox Archdiocese in Western Europe, politicians like Count Vladimir Kokovstsov (former prime minister of Nicolas II), Prince Gueorgui Lvoff (president of the first provisional government in 1917), soldiers , the filmmaker Andrei Tarkovski, or even Prince Felix Youssoupov, the main architect of the assassination of Rasputin.

The church, built in 1939 at the instigation of Metropolitan Euloge, is in the Novgorodian style of the 15th century with a bell tower in the Pskov style. It is the work of the architect and decorator Albert Alexandrovich Benois and his wife Margarita Alexandrovna who also painted the murals inside the church and the crypt. The Russian necropolis is a world famous heritage.

The Committee for the maintenance of Russian Orthodox Graves

Located on the grounds of the church and next to the cemetery, the purpose of the committee is to maintain and monitor the existing graves, the good general condition of the cemetery as well as the graves of people buried in the cemetery, in order to perpetuate their memory. The committee also has a role of representing families vis-à-vis the authorities (Municipality, Ministry of Culture, Russian Embassy). It has its own network of authorized subcontractors in order to assist families in the maintenance and the improvement of the graves either by taking on the tasks directly when relevant, or by putting the families in contact with the subcontractors and possibly, by supervising and coordinating the sponsored interventions on the graves.

The committee carries out its mission thanks to family contributions.


This site was produced by the maintenance committee for Russian Orthodox graves in the cemetery of Sainte Geneviève des Bois in partnership with the cultural department of the National Audiovisual Institute (INA) and the association les amis de l'histoire of Sainte Geneviève des Bois and its surroundings.