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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 communal cemetery of Sainte Geneviève des Bois.

The origin of the cemetery comes from the reception given to elderly Russian emigrants at the "Maison Russe" at the Château de la Cossonerie located 500 meters from the cemetery, who were buried there in 1927, pushing the municipality of Sainte Geneviève des Bois to create a “Russian square” within the communal cemetery. The latter was listed on the inventory of picturesque sites of the department of Essonne in 1979 and 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 constitutes the largest Russian cemetery abroad.

A good part of the Russian elite of the 20th century is buried there, such as the dancers and choreographers Rudoph Nureyev, Serge Lifar, Preobrajenskaya, .., writers and poets including the Nobel Prize for Literature Ivan Bunin, Merezhkovsky, Boris Zaitsev, Zinaida Gyppius, Nadezhda Teffi, painters and sculptors like Dmitri Stelletsky, Zinaida Serebriakova, …, philosophers and religious thinkers like the RP Serge Boulgakov, Wassili Zenkovsky and Nicolas Afanassieff, Anton Kartachev, Nicolas and Wladimir Lossky, men of the Church like the founding Metropolitan Euloge 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 Andreï Tarkovski, or even the prince Felix Youssoupov 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 made the mural frescoes 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 adjoining the cemetery, the purpose of the committee is to maintain and monitor existing graves, the good general condition of the cemetery as well as of the 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 (Commune, Ministry of Culture, Russian Embassy) and has its own network of authorized subcontractors allowing it to assist families in the maintenance and improvement of the tombs either by taking on the tasks directly when relevant, or by putting families in contact with subcontractors and possibly, by supervising and coordinating the commissioned 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 service of the National Audiovisual Institute (INA), the Russian house of science and culture in Paris and the association Friends of the History of Sainte Geneviève des Bois and its surroundings.

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