Two years later, three men went to Montfaucon to dig up the corpse of Louis XI’s barber. The new king had recently granted the barber a pardon. His family was now allowed to bury him in his own grave in their parish church cemetery.

-- From The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as adapted by Emily Hutchinson

Does "parish church cemetery" mean: in the cemetery that belongs to their church.

  • Both answers so far imply that the parish is defined by the congregation, but see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parish_in_the_Catholic_Church — the parish was a territory with established boundaries, and in those days might be (as in England) a unit of civil government as well as of the church. Feb 11, 2019 at 6:10

2 Answers 2


A "parish" is the area around a church where the worshippers at that church live. A typical sized parish would have at most a few hundred people living in it - for example one village and the surrounding farms.

Usually the cemetery or graveyard would be the land immediately surrounding the church building.

There was not much social mobility at that period in history, and each family would have its own area within the cemetery where all the family members from previous generations had been buried.

There are several places in France called Montfaucon, but because of the reference to the "king's barber" and the "pardon," the OP's quote is likely to refer to a district of Paris, which was infamous as a place where criminals were executed.

Presumably the barber was executed in Montfaucon for some crime, and buried near to the place of execution - quite likely in "unconsecrated ground" that was not under the religious jurisdiction of any church, since the criminals buried there would be unlikely to spend their afterlife in heaven!

However, after being posthumously pardoned by the new king, the barber was now entitled to be buried with the customary religious ceremonies, and the three men therefore exhumed the body and took it to be buried in the parish where his family lived.




  • In most places, the small region in which most of a church's attendees live.
  • In Louisiana, a local governmental unit. It is equivalent to what other U.S. states call a "county".

"parish church"

  • The church that corresponds to a parish.

"Their parish church cemetery"

  • The cemetery that belongs to their parish church.
  • This is not Louisiana, I don't think.
    – Lambie
    Feb 10, 2019 at 22:10
  • But Louisiana being a former French colony, I presume they adopted the division into parishes. Feb 11, 2019 at 13:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .