The place is highly symbolic. Pope Francis will visit the French cemetery in Rome on Tuesday, November 2, where he will celebrate the Mass for the Commemoration of the faithful deceased, La Croix has learned from corroborating sources.
This cemetery, located on Monte Mario, one of the hills of Rome, houses the cemetery where the graves of the soldiers of the French Expeditionary Force in Italy are located. These soldiers, commanded by General Alphonse Juin, died between Siena and Rome during the Italian campaign, in 1943 and 1944.
7,000 soldiers killed
The cemetery contains 1,709 graves of the Expeditionary Force, out of the 7,000 men killed during this campaign, which involved 125,000 combatants. The cemetery houses the remains of 1,142 Muslim soldiers, Goumiers, mostly of Moroccan nationality, who served in the French army. 4,345 other soldiers are resting in the town of Venalfro, 150 km south-east of Rome.
Installed on a tree-lined hill, the French cemetery in Rome also houses a monument to the dead of the “French Expeditionary Corps”, the work of sculptor Lucien Fénaux, the first stone of which was laid by Marshal Juin in 1947.
The land of the French military cemetery in Rome was ceded to France in 1945 by a decree of the King of Italy, on the initiative of Alcide De Gasperi, first President of the Italian Council after World War II.
For the past few years, the Pope has visited a cemetery every year to celebrate Mass on the occasion of November 2, the day during which the Catholic Church celebrates the Day of the Dead. Thus, he visited the Teutonic cemetery in 2020, the Roman catacombs of Priscilla in 2019, the Laurentine cemetery in Rome in 2018 and the American cemetery of Nettuno, near Rome, in 2017.