The 6 women in the Pantheon, who are they?

Scientists, politicians, writers, resistants, religious, lawyers, artists, etc., 80 personalities rest in the Panthéon, in the heart of Paris.

1. Sophie Berthelot

The Pantheon of France Credit: zefart

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Sophie Berthelot is the first woman in the pantheon. She is considered the unknown of the Pantheon. Sophie B. is in fact the wife of Marcellin Berthelot, a politician and chemist.

Sophie B. and her husband died the same day. Armand Fallières, the president at the time, accepted that Marcellin Berthelot rests with his wife.

The fact that Sophie B. is buried in the Pantheon has no connection with his curriculum or professional background. When she died in 1907, her husband, Marcellin Berthelot, also died. Note that this chemist has more than 1,000 scientific patents. Thanks to him, his wife was therefore pantheonized.

The family agreed to leave Marcellin B. to rest in the Pantheon on one condition. His wife Sofie B. must have been next to him. Aristide Briand, a French Prime Minister, insisted that Sophie rest with her husband. He said : She had all the rare qualities which allow a beautiful, graceful, gentle, amiable and cultured woman to be associated with the concerns, dreams and works of a man of genius.“.

Marcellin B. received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. He is a professor at the Collège de France, essayist, historian and chemist all at the same time. He was born on October 25, 1827 in Paris. Here is part of his course:

  • 1873: he becomes a member of the Academy of Sciences.
  • 1876: he is the inspector general for higher education.
  • 1881: he is elected senator.
  • 1886: he was appointed Minister of Public Instruction in the Goblet cabinet.
  • 1889: he is appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Permanent Secretary to the Academy of Sciences.
  • 1900: he replaces Joseph Bertrand at the Academy.
  • 1963: he joined themedical academy.
  • 1965: the professor of organic chemistry obtained the Laureate of the Academy of Sciences.

2. Marie Curie: a late entry into the Pantheon

Marie Curie in her laboratory in Paris Credit: pinterest

Marie Curie is a genius, because she is the only woman to have won two Nobel Prizes in the world. In 1895, she married a physicist: Pierre Curie. In 1903, this French woman scientist received her first physic’s Nobel price with her husband. In 1911, she obtained a second, but in chemistry.

She died in 1934. However, her entry into the Pantheon took place a few decades later. In 1995, she became the first woman to enter this monument, thanks to her merits. This event took place under the mandate of François Mitterrand, the French president at the time. Simone Veil made a plea for the physicist to obtain a place in the heart of the Pantheon.

Between 2017 and 2018, an exhibition took place at the Panthéon to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the woman scientist. During the event, the president of the Center des monuments nationaux, Philippe Belaval, said: Celebrating the memory of Marie Curie, within the walls of the Pantheon, was obvious. A monument honoring the collective memory of Great Men, it is a particularly symbolic place for Marie Curie – the first woman to enter there. Through her, all women who work for research and science should feel honored.“.

In summary, here is the path of the physicist:

  • 1867: Maria Sklodowska was born in Warsaw, Poland.
  • 1891: Invited by her sister Bronia, Maria Sklodowska goes to Paris and enrolls at the Sorbonne.
  • 1895: she becomes the wife of Pierre Curie.
  • 1898: Peter and Mary discovered radium, a radioactive element.
  • 1906: Pierre Curie dies.
  • 1906: the physicist becomes a teacher at the Sorbonne.
  • 1914: it creates the very first mobile radiological service for the wounded during the First World War.
  • 1914: she founded the Radium Institute.
  • 1934: the physics professor dies of leukaemia.

3. Germaine Tillion and Genevieve de Gaulle-Anthonioz

The photo of Germaine Tillion Credit: pinterest

François Hollande brought in two women in the Pantheon : Germaine Tillion and Geneviève deGaulle-Anthonioz.

Germaine Tillon a resistance fighter from the Second World War, met Genevieve DeGaulle-Anthonioza fighter in a concentration camp in Ravensbrück.

These two personalities had their place in the Pantheon in 2015. Note that Geneviève DeGaulle-Anthonioz is the niece of General de Gaulle. She stays there first woman to be awarded the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor. Germaine Tillion is the second woman to obtain this title.

At the age of 19, Geneviève deGaulle-Anthonioz joined the Resistance of 1940. At first, she acted in Rennes while studying history. She then continued at the Musée de l’Homme before returning to Paris in 1941 to obtain her degree in history. In 1943, she participated in a movement, La Défense de la France. This resistance brings together many personalities, civil servants, young graduates, etc. Geneviève was arrested on July 20, 1943 and imprisoned in Fresnes. On January 30, 1944, she was deported to the Ravensbrück center, a concentration camp. There she meets her war friend Germaine Tillion.

Germaine Tillion lived from 1907 to 2008. This ethnologist and resistant was born in Allègre. She is a graduate of the Institute of Ethnology. During the Second World War, she became the prisoner escape leader, an entity created by Colonel Hauet, the Musée de l’Homme group. Then, she joins the Gloria network which has the function of gathering military information for the British. She is arrested after the dismantling of this organization. The intervention of a certain diplomat Folke Bernadotte, a Swede, enabled him to seek treatment in Sweden. After her release, she collects the history of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Thanks to her heroism, she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947.

4. Simone Veil

Simone Veil, a great woman in the Panthéon Credit: AFP / Joël Saget

The entrance of Simone Veil in the Pantheon takes place in 2018. She is a former Jewish deportee. She is also known for having campaigned and carried the legislation concerning abortion and women’s rights in 1974. At the time, she was a minister.

To follow up on the request of many French people, Emmanuel Macron decided to bury Simone Veil in the Pantheon. In fact, she is one of the tall women of the country and of the European Union. Most of his fights have focused on:

  • Women’s rights.
  • European construction. In 1979, she became the first woman to hold the post of Speaker of Parliament.
  • The memory of the deportation.

At the age of 16 years, Simone Veil is arrested in Nice during a street check. She was then deported to Germany in the Drancy camp. With one of her sisters and her mother, she left Drancy to join Auschwitz-Birkenau by means of convoy n°71. Being over 18, she avoids the extermination carried out by the opposing camp.

In 1945, she returned to France and married Antoine Veil on October 26, 1946. In 1956, she won the judicial competition and became a senior civil servant at the heart of the prison administration. In 1970, she was appointed secretary general within the Superior Council of the Judiciary.

Under the government of Jacques Chirac and Raymond Barre, she directed the Ministry of Health.

Simone Veil topped the UDF list in 1979. She was elected President of the European Parliament until 1982. Before her appointment as head of the Ministry of State for Social Affairs (Edouard Balladur government of 1993-1995), she remained a Member of the European Parliament. She ended her career at the Constitutional Council from 1998 to 2007. The rest of her life, she was involved in many causes:

  • 2000 – 2007: President of the “Foundation for the memory of Shoah”.
  • 2008: she joined the French Academy.
  • 2009: she receives the Grand Officer of the Legion of Honor.

5. Josephine Baker

Photo of Joséphine Baker on the facade of the Panthéon Credit: Olivier DJIANN

Josephine Baker was born in the United States, more precisely in Saint-Louis, in 1906. Her birth name is Freda Joséphine McDonald. She wears many hats: singer, actress, dancer, French resistance fighter of American origin and magazine leader.

In 1925, Josephine Baker began her activities in Paris and became a star thanks to the Review Negro. This show is launched at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées. The interpretation of the play “J’ai deux amours” made her famous during the interwar period.

Josephine Baker marries Jean Lion, a businessman. In 1937, she obtained French nationality.

This magazine leader is a WWII activist. She supported the French resistance. In 1946, she was awarded a medal for the French Resistance. On August 19, 1961, she was awarded the Knight of the Legion of Honor and the Croix de guerre.

This great lady adopted 12 children. She settled in the Dordogne, but died on April 12, 1975 in the French capital, Paris.

In 2021, a petition calls for Entrance to the Pantheon of Josephine B. titled “Dare Josephine“, it collects 37,000 signatures. On November 30, 2021, the icon is pantheonized.

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The 6 women in the Pantheon, who are they?