Philibert Aspairt (died 1793) was a doorkeeper of the Val-de-Grâce hospital during the French Revolution. He died in the underground Catacombs of Paris in November of 1793 after entering them via a staircase located in the hospital courtyard. His motives are unknown. His body was not discovered until 1804, 11 years later, in one of the quarry galleries and was buried where it was found. The cause of his death was never determined. Aspairt might have been identified by the hospital key ring hanging from his belt.
His tomb is in the restricted part of the Paris catacombs, under the rue Henri Barbusse, next to the boulevard Saint-Michel.
His tomb bears the following inscription:
- A LA MEMOIRE DE PHILIBERT ASPAIRT PERDU DANS CETTE CARRIERE LE III NOVEMBRE MDCCXCIII RETROUVE ONZE ANS APRES ET INHUME EN LA MEME PLACE LE XXX AVRIL MDCCCIV
- IN THE MEMORY OF PHILIBERT ASPAIRT, LOST IN THIS EXCAVATION ON 3 NOVEMBER 1793; FOUND ELEVEN YEARS LATER AND BURIED AT THE SAME PLACE ON 30 APRIL 1804.
The archives of Ravel-Salmerange in the Puy-de-Dôme department contain the birth certificate of Philiber Asper, born on 13 April 1732. The digital archives of the city of Paris contain a death certificate for a Philibert Asper dated 2 May 1804.
- Extrait du registre des Actes de Décès de l’an XXX
- Division de l’observatoire
- Du vingt huit floréal an douze à une heure de relevée
- Acte de décès de Philibert Asper, carrier âgé de soixante deux ans, né à Salmeranges, Département du Puy de Dôme, demeurant à Paris Rue St Jacques numéro 129 dite division, marié à Elisabeth Millard sa veuve, trouvé mort dans les carrières, sous la Rue d’Enfer, le douze floréal présent mois, heure de midi, suivant le procès verbal dressé le dit jour par Charles Daubanel commissaire de police de la division du Luxembourg, Asper disparu de la maison depuis dix à douze ans ainsi qu’il est plus au long constaté au procès verbal dressé le dit jour douze floréal présent mois et an par le dit commissaire de police, de la dite division du Luxembourg En conséquence duquel extrait nous a été remis par Jean Marie François Dupont, employé demeurant Rue St Jacques 176, division de l’observatoire, étranger du défunt, lequel a signé pardevant nous Maire du douzième arrondissement de Paris, soussigné lecture faite du xx acte.
- Signé Dupont et Collette Maire
- Délivré conforme au registre
- À Paris le deux janvier mil
Extract of the register of death acts of year XXX
- Observatoire Division
- 28th Floréal, year 12, 1:00
- Death certificate of Philibert Asper, quarry worker, aged 62 years. Born in Salmeranges, department of Puy de Dôme, residing in Paris, Rue St Jacques 129 of said division. Married - Elisabeth Millard his widow. Found dead in the quarries under the Rue d’Enfer, on 12 Floréal of the present month, at noon. Based on the minutes written on said day by Charles Daubanel, police officer of the Luxembourg division, said Asper had been missing from his house for ten or twelve years as it is found throughout the minutes written the said day, 12 Floréal of the present month and year, by said police officer, of said Luxembourg division. In consequence of which, the extract was remitted to us by Jean Marie François Dupont, worker residing Rue St Jacques 176, Observatoire division, stranger to the deceased, who signed before us, Mayor of the Twelfth Arrondissement of Paris, undersigned reading done of XX Act.
- Signed, Dupont and Collette Mayor
- Issued in accordance to the register
- In Paris the 2 of January
Some inconsistencies exist between different documents related to the case: a different spelling of his surname, different dates (the tomb indicates he was buried on 30 April 1804, while the death certificate is dated 8 May 1804), and his profession (Philibert was described as both a doorkeeper at the Val-de-Grâc and a quarryman).
However, it is common for the spelling of surnames to evolve over time. Differences in birth dates may be the result of mistakes in converting traditional dates to republican calendar dates. Aspairt may have been a quarryman before becoming doorkeeper at the hospital.
In popular culture
- The story of Philibert Aspairt was cited by Edgar P. Jacobs in The Necklace Affair, a comic book in the Blake and Mortimer series.
- The 2014 video game Assassin's Creed Unity references Aspairt as part of its murder mystery quests. In the game, his body is found in the catacombs along with a crate of Chartreuse, a worn shovel, rosary beads, a set of keys, an old satchel, and a blood covered Bible; the Bible is stamped by a local convent, Couvent des Filles de l'Enfant Jésus :84 Reu de Seve which is in reference to Convent of the Filles St. Thomas and Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus. In the game, the story is that Philibert racked up a large tab at a local tavern and spent his earnings on gambling. One night, in a drunken haze, he wandered into the Paris catacombs and stumbled upon a large stash of Chartreuse wine. Given its high value at the time, he decided to steal as much as he could. The Chartreuse was made by the Carthusian monks and is said to be hidden by the nuns of the convent Couvent des Filles de l'Enfant Jésus. A Sister Sorel was charged with hiding the cherished elixir who also did not take kindly to thievery. Sister Sorel kept a watchful eye on the catacombs and gave Philibert a warning that he ignored. When Philibert once again returned for more Chartreuse, he was met with a shovel to the head. The case is solved in the game by accusing Sister Sorel who admits to the murder, but protests by saying such a holy elixir should not be in the hands of filthy peasants.
-  Tomb of Philibert Aspairt, with flowers