Pantheon - Staglieno - Genoa
The presence of the Pantheon in the structure of the cemetery of the 19th century is indubitably one of the most typical elements of the imaginary of the death that comes from the Post-Enlightenment.
After the publication of the Letters Patent on May the 26th, 1832, the burials in churches have been forbidden and it has been necessary to build public graveyards, so the Municipality of Genoa has charged the architect Carlo Barabino to build a cemetery outside the city walls. As Ferdinando Resasco has written in his book “La necropoli di Staglieno” (the necropole of Staglieno) a place has been chosen “four kilometers away, getting out of the city by the Porta Romana, in the eastern part of our city walls, along the provincial route which leads to Bobbio, at the foot of a hill named Casale de Mussi in the zone of the Villa Vaccarezza in the valley of the river Bisagno in the town of Staglieno, in a piece of land between the rivers Veilino and Bisagno”. Unfortunately in 1835 a cholera epidemic broke out in Genoa, killing many Genoese people, including also Carlo Barabino, so the task of working out a plan for the construction of a monumental cemetery was entrusted to the new civic architect Giovanni Battista Resasco.
On April the 22nd, 1840 even the project for the construction of the Suffrages’ Chapel (today known as Pantheon) was approved with an allocation of 200,000 lire.
However, the construction was hard put to start, due to lack of financing, but only in 1860 it was decided to raise the price of the burials, which were about 21,000, in order to start off the first phase of the construction of the Suffrages’ Chapel , which have cost 700,000 lire. The construction was completed only in 1878 and on November the 2nd of the same year, the Suffrages’ Chapel was inaugurated and consecrated by the Archbishop Salvatore Magnasco.
In 1925 the municipality approved to place a case in the Pantheon with a book which contained a list of the most illustrious Genoese people which have been buried in the Pantheon (both the case and the book will be completed only in 1939) and the requirements for being buried in the Pantheon. On June the 2nd, 1925, the Prefectural Commissioner imposed that the gravestones must show only the name, the date of birth and the date of death of the personalities which have been buried there and that an epigraphic biography must be drawn up for each person buried in the Pantheon. In the end, all these biographies would have been gathered in a book of illuminated parchments in a bronze tabernacle near the tombs: in fact, the Pantheon has been built in order to store the memory of the most famous Genoese personalities, so as a memorial chapel.
Today it holds the tombs of many important personalities which have distinguished themselves in the field of the arts, the literature, the politics and the sciences. mc