The Saint Denis Basilica is a sacred burial place where kings, queens, and saints from 10th century onwards were buried in tombs and their memory preserved in sculptures carved from marble/stone. Currently, the Saint Denis basilica is a world’s most sacred attraction site because it has been transformed into a museum. This means that the Basilica creates a memorable space that cannot undergo erosion of time. Indeed, the Basilica is constantly renovated.
In spite of the concrete memory and history the Basilica holds, scholar Pierre Nora argues otherwise in the book Les lieux de mémoire. According to Pierre Nora, “an archive becomes a memory only if the imagination invests the archival with a symbolic aura”. This raises controversial questions as to whether or not these memorial cultures truly fulfill their duty. Additionally, he believes that memory that existed before modernism and modern technology was more pure and more stable compared to today’s archived memory. Indeed today’s archived memory has undergone rewrites, and analysis hence emitted much needed information. This explains the fact that materialization of memory has undergone multiplication, democratization and decentralization. Hence, achieved memory has become deliberate and calculated.
The history found in Saint Denis Basilica can be considered as “true meaning” of history because nothing has been rewritten, multiplied or put on tape. Unlike the current taped history that show historical events containing very little percentage of truth, the carvings and the tombs remain the same, and will for years to come. Furthermore, like the biblical written marbles that helped a lot in retrieving Christian history, the archival marbles and tombs found in Saint Denis Basilica are precious archives. Those archives need careful preservation because they contain historical truths that will be needed by generations to come.