In Europe, many of the church cemeteries are quite picturesque and interesting – and this was also true of the little towns I visited this summer in France’s Pays Basque – France’s southwestern most region, along the border with Spain, which has its own sizable Basque community.
To add to the picturesque nature of these cemeteries, the traditional Basque gravestones are not only filled with crosses, but also with a type of round stele with symbols that trace back to pagan rituals practiced by the Basques before their conversion to Christianity.
What is interesting is that these symbols and practices lived on and played a prominent role in their Christian beliefs throughout this region.
The typical symbol you see on may of these gravestones is the one most closely related to Basque identity – the Lauburu, which means ‘four heads’ and is said to represent the Basque provinces.
It’s interesting to see these traditional Basque, circular gravestones interspersed with the crosses – maintaining both traditions in these peaceful, country cemeteries.
Don’t miss a wander around some of these beautiful, traditional cemeteries when you are next in Pays basque.