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Josephine Baker enters Pantheon, remains stay in Monaco

Josephine Baker enters Pantheon, remains stay in Monaco

By Stephanie Horsman - November 30, 2021

Monaco has marked the entry of Josephine Baker into the Pantheon in Paris with a moving ceremony at the Monaco cemetery where her remains will stay, at the request of her family.

Josephine Baker, who died in 1975, was the world’s first black superstar and one of Europe’s most sought after entertainers of the first half of the 20th century. She was renowned for her beauty as well as her talents, but she was also an ardent civil rights activist, and put her life on the line as an intelligence gatherer during World War II.

She spent her twilight years near Monaco, where she befriended fellow American expat Grace Kelly, who was by then Princess Grace. Upon her death, she was interred at the Monaco Cemetery where her remains will stay despite having a space in the Parisian monument.

Josephine Baker, photo source: AP

To mark Josephine Baker’s entry into the Pantheon on Tuesday, a ceremony was held at the Monaco cemetery on Monday in the presence of Prince Albert II, Minister of State Pierre Dartout, Ambassador of France Laurent Stefanini, US Consul General Kristen Grauer, Baker’s family and other personalities.

The Prince first delivered a speech in front of the Monument aux Morts, recalling the strong ties that united Josephine Baker to the Principality of Monaco as well as the friendly relationship that existed between the artist and Princess Grace. This was followed by a minute of silence, before the American, French and Monegasque hymns were played by the Orchestre des Carabiniers du Prince.

Photos by Manuel Vitali, Government Communication Department

The Prince and guests then went to Josephine Baker’s grave where a blessing was given by Father Cézar Penzo, who himself had carried out the burial of Josephine Baker on 2nd October 1975.

Prince Albert was invited to symbolically remove some earth which he placed in a wooden chest and handed over to Laurent Stefanini.

According to the wishes of the Baker family, the singer’s remains will remain in the Principality of Monaco. The Monegasque earth has been mixed with that of the city of Saint-Louis – where Joséphine Baker is from, as well as that of Paris – where she made her career, and the Château des Milandes in France where she lived and raised her “Rainbow Tribe”.

The ceremony at the Monaco cemetery ended with a moment of meditation.

Monaco has named a new square on the promenade overlooking Larvotto Beach ‘Place Josephine Baker’, set to be completed by Christmas, in yet another tribute to this remarkable woman.

 

 

Top photo by Manuel Vitali, Government Communication Department

 

 

 

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