Protestant Cemetery, Rome

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File:Poeta1 (Cimitero Acattolico Roma).jpg
Devereux Plantagenet Cockburn, † 1850

The Protestant Cemetery (Template:Lang-it) now officially called the Cimitero acattolico ("Non-Catholic Cemetery") and often referred to as the Cimitero degli Inglesi ("Englishmen's Cemetery") is a cemetery in Rome, located near Porta San Paolo alongside the Pyramid of Cestius, a small-scale Egyptian-style pyramid built in 30 BC as a tomb and later incorporated into the section of the Aurelian Walls that borders the cemetery. The presence of Mediterranean cypress, pomegranate, and other trees, and a grassy meadow suggests the more naturalistic landscape style of northern Europe, where cemeteries sometimes incorporate grass and other greenery. As the official name indicates, it is the final resting place of non-Catholics (not only Protestants or English people).


The earliest known burial is that of an Oxford student named Langton in 1738. The most famous graves are those of English poets John Keats (1795–1821) and Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822). Keats died in Rome of tuberculosis at the age of 25. His epitaph, which does not mention him by name, is by his friends Joseph Severn and Charles Armitage Brown: "This grave contains all that was mortal, of a YOUNG ENGLISH POET, Who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart, at the Malicious Power of his Enemies, Desired these Words to be engraven on his Tomb Stone: Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water."

Shelley, who did not know how to swim, drowned in 1822 while sailing in his yacht off the Italian Riviera. When his body washed up upon the shore, a copy of Keats' poetry was discovered in his pocket - doubled back - as though it had been put away in a hurry. He was cremated on the beach near Viareggio by his friends, the poet Lord Byron and the English adventurer Edward John Trelawny. His ashes were sent to the British consulate in Rome, who had them interred in the Protestant Cemetery some months later.

Shelley's heart supposedly survived cremation and was snatched out of the flames by Trelawny, who subsequently gave it to Shelley's widow, Mary. When Mary Shelley died, the heart was found in her desk wrapped in the manuscript of "Adonais," the elegy Shelley had written the year before upon the death of Keats, in which the poet urges the traveler, "Go thou to Rome ... <poem>

... From the world's bitter wind
Seek shelter in the shadow of the tomb.
What Adonais is, why fear we to become?
The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity,
Until Death tramples it to fragments.—Die,
If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek!
Follow where all is fled! — Rome's azure sky,
Flowers, ruins, statues, music, words, are weak
The glory they transfuse with fitting truth to speak.</poem>

Shelley and Mary's three-year-old son William was also buried in the Protestant Cemetery.

Shelley's heart was finally buried, encased in silver, in 1889, with the son who survived him, Sir Percy Florence Shelley, but his gravestone in the Protestant Cemetery is inscribed: Cor cordium ("heart of hearts"), followed by a quotation from Shakespeare's The Tempest:

Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea change.
Into something rich and strange.

Notable burials

  • Hendrik Christian Andersen (1872–1940), sculptor, friend of Henry James
  • R.M. Ballantyne (1825 – 1894), Scottish novelist.
  • John Bell (1763–1820), Scottish surgeon and anatomist
  • Pietro Boyesen (1819–1882), Danish photographer
  • Martin Boyd (1893-1972), Australian novelist and autobiographer.
  • Karl Briullov (1799–1852), Russian painter
  • Zakhar Chernyshev (1796–1862), Russian participant in the Decembrist revolt
  • Enrico Coleman (1846–1911), artist and orchid-lover
  • Gregory Corso (1930–2001), American beat generation poet
  • Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1815–1882), American author of Two Years Before the Mast
  • Frances Minto Elliot (1820–1898), English writer
  • Robert K. Evans (1852—1926), United States Army Brigadier General
  • Robert Finch (1783–1830), English antiquary and connoisseur of the arts
  • Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893–1973), Italian novelist
  • John Gibson (1790–1866), Welsh sculptor, student of Canova
  • August von Goethe (1789–1830), son of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; his monument features a medallion by Bertel Thorvaldsen
  • Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), Italian philosopher, leader of the Italian Communist Party
  • Richard Saltonstall Greenough (1819–1904), American sculptor
  • Wilhelm von Humboldt (1794–1803), son of the German diplomat and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt
  • Alexander Ivanov (1806–1858), Russian painter
  • Vyacheslav Ivanov (1866–1949), Russian poet, philosopher, and classical scholar
  • Chauncey Ives (1810–1894), American sculptor
  • John Keats (1795–1821), English poet
  • Belinda Lee (1935–1961), British actress
  • Hans von Marées (1837–1887), German painter
  • George Perkins Marsh (1801–1882), American Minister to Italy 1861–1882, author of "Man and Nature"
  • Malwida von Meysenbug (1816–1903), German author
  • E. Herbert Norman (1909–57), Canadian diplomat and historian.
  • Thomas Jefferson Page (1808–1899), commander of United States Navy expeditions exploring the Río de la Plata
  • Bruno Pontecorvo (1913–1993), Italian nuclear physicist
  • G. Frederick Reinhardt (1911–1971), U.S. Ambassador to Italy 1961–1968, Administrator of this Cemetery 1961–1968
  • Heinrich Reinhold (1788–1825), German painter, draughtsman, engraver. His tombstone features a medallion by Bertel Thorvaldsen
Story's Angel of Grief.
  • Sarah Parker Remond (1826–1894), American abolitionist
  • Gottfried Semper (1803–1879), German architect
  • Joseph Severn (1793–1879), English painter, consul in Rome, and friend of John Keats, beside whom he is buried
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), English poet
  • Franklin Simmons (1839–1913), American sculptor and painter
  • William Wetmore Story (1819–1895), American sculptor, buried beside his wife, Emelyn Story, under his own Angel of Grief.
  • Pavel Svedomsky (1849-1904), Russian painter
  • John Addington Symonds (1840–1893), English poet and critic
  • Manfredo Tafuri (1935–1994), Italian architectural historian
  • Lady Temple (died 1809), wife of Sir Grenville Temple, 9th Baronet
  • Edward John Trelawny (1792–1881), English author, friend of Percy Bysshe Shelley, beside whose ashes he is buried
  • Elihu Vedder (1836–1923), American painter, sculptor, graphic artist
  • Wilhelm Friedrich Waiblinger (1804–1830), German poet and biographer of Friedrich Hölderlin
  • Friedrich Adolf Freiherr von Willisen (1798–1864), Prussian General and Ambassador to the Holy See
  • Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840–1894), American novelist and short story writer, friend of Henry James
  • Helen Zelezny-Scholz (1882-1974), Czech-born sculptor and architectural sculptor



Further reading

External links