The Ossuary at Verdun where the longest battle of WWI was fought. Teilhard de Chardin served at Verdun for months and was awarded a medal for valor.
November 11, 2018, was the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, known then as The Great War, and was called, “the war to end all wars.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin served in 67 battles of that war, decorated three times for valor. He emerged without physical injury. But two of his younger brothers were killed in the war. Gonzague died in the first month; Olivier in May, 1918. Although Teilhard had already been ordained when the war began, he chose not to serve as a chaplain, which would have made him an officer. Instead he chose to be a stretcher bearer, serving with enlisted Muslims from North Africa. The war was a pivotal time for him. He began the writings that would make him famous, writing feverishly whenever he could, because he didn’t know if he would live or die.
The Ossuary preserves the unidentified bones of 130,000 soldiers who died at Verdun.
The pictures here are from Verdun, one of the places where Teilhard served and was cited for valor. Today there is a large Ossuary rising above the cemetery, built to commemorate those who fought and died there. Row upon row of crosses stretch beyond the Ossuary, along with grave markers for Jewish and Muslim soldiers. But underneath the building itself lie the bones of some additional 130,000 unidentified soldiers that you can see through narrow windows. It is a chilling sight that is totally unlike the sanitized look of military graveyards, with the dignity of their stylized rows of graves. Looking at the piles of unidentified bones through these windows brings home the reality of the death and destruction that war brings. Let us take a minute today to think of these men, and all the millions of others who died in World War I. And in all the wars that followed.
Donations to the Teilhard Project are always welcome at https://www.teilhardproject.com/donations/ You keep us going while we apply for major grants that will allow us to complete the film. Thank you for your ongoing support!
Frank and Mary Frost