The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Strange people in France
French lay to rest heart of 1795 boy heir
SAINT-DENIS, France - French royalists staged a pageant-filled funeral yesterday for a tiny, rock-hard relic they hailed as the heart cut from Louis XVII, who died at age 10 in a filthy revolutionary prison.
A hearse brimming with lilies - symbol of the French crown - delivered a crystal vase containing the heart to the Saint-Denis Basilica. It was placed in a crypt containing the remains of Louis XVII's parents, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI.
After centuries of mystery surrounding the boy's fate, DNA tests have convinced many historians that the relic passed secretly from person to person was truly the royal heart.
A faction of royalists - who want to restore France's monarchy - seized on the DNA tests to press the government to allow the funeral at the Gothic basilica north of Paris, resting place of France's kings.
Trumpets sounded as a small boy marched up the aisle with the vase. Outside, a crowd followed the Roman Catholic Mass on a huge screen.
Afterward, cries of "Long live the king!" greeted the Duke of Anjou, Louis-Alphonse de Bourbon, one of several pretenders to the throne. The Bourbons dispute the rights of succession with the Orleans dynasty that followed.