a blog with cultural bulimia.

Friday, February 20, 2004

She married a dead man

A Love That Transcends Death Is Blessed by the State
"'I had what you can call a perfect wedding,' Ms. Demichel said the next day, chain-smoking beside her new mother-in-law in a Paris caf?.

Yes, it is possible to marry the dearly departed in France, thanks to a law that turns the vow "till death do us part" on its head.

The law dates to December 1959, when the Malpasset Dam in southern France burst, inundating the town of Fr?jus and claiming hundreds of lives. When de Gaulle visited the town a week later, a young woman named Ir?ne Jodard pleaded with him to allow her to follow through on her marriage plans even though her fianc? had drowned.

"I promise, Mademoiselle, to think of you," de Gaulle was reported to have replied.

Later that month, Parliament drafted a law to permit Ms. Jodard to marry her deceased fianc?, Andr? Capra. Hundreds of would-be widows and widowers have applied for post-mortem matrimony since then.

Anyone wishing to marry a dead person must send a request to the president, who then forwards it to the justice minister, who sends it to the prosecutor in whose jurisdiction the surviving person lives.

If the prosecutor determines that the couple planned to marry before the death and if the parents of the deceased approve, the prosecutor sends a recommendation back up the line. The president, if so moved, eventually signs a decree allowing the marriage."