The restoration of Julian Watts-Russell’s grave, June 1894

Campo Verano cemetery, Rome – General view

The restoration of the grave of Julian  Watts-Russell is now completed, after having  cost £17. [A modern day equivalent of £12,000] Among the latest contributors have been Lady Ellenborough and Lady Frances Lindsay. The grave is surrounded by low marble walls, sup-porting six small marble columns connected by a low bar, while the bed within is sown with rose trees, chrysanthemums, junipers, and violets. In the winter season there will be a cross of snowdrops and pansies. The old headstone stands in its place. This is a copy of the declaration put in the casket with the bones :

“The grave of Julian Watts-Russell, Pontifical Zouave, who was killed in the battle of Mentana, Nov. 3, 1867, was opened, and his remains examined on May 16, 1894, in the presence of the undersigned. The undersigned hereby declare that owing to the vault in which the coffin was placed having been imperfectly closed in the first instance, the rain was found to have penetrated into it, the consequence of which was that much damage had been done. The outer wooden coffin had gone to pieces, and the zinc coffin holding the remains was much damaged and broken. On the latter being opened it was further discovered that the moisture bad found entrance into it, causing such a condition of things as to necessitate the remains being transferred to this zinc casket. The remains were found to be very far advanced in decomposition, and it was only the bones of the skeleton, themselves much damaged by the wet, that were enclosed in this casket. The casket containing the bones, before being placed in the vault, was blessed by a Capuchin monk of the Church of San Lorenzo. All this was done in the presence of the undersigned, on the date above indicated.”

Then follow the signatures of those who attended the ceremony of exhumation on May 16 of the present year.

The above text was found on p.17, 16th June 1894 in “The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly.” Reproduced with kind permission of the Publisher. The Tablet can be found at http://www.thetablet.co.uk .

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