Today’s Illustration: It is the end of everything, everything, everything!

Madam Marie Curie

  • Born “Maria Skłodowska,” in 1867
  • Moved from Poland to Paris
  • Married Pierre Curie (born 1859) in 1895
  • Children: Irene (1897-1956) & Ève Curie (1904 – 2007, age 102)
  • Marie was 37 when Eve was born —
  • “When I was big enough to know her well, she was already an aging woman who had passed the summit of renown. And yet it is the celebrated scientist who is strangest to me — probably because the idea that she was a “celebrated scientist” did not occupy the mind of Marie Curie. It seems to me, rather, that I have always lived near the poor student, haunted by dreams, who was Marya Skodovska long before I came into the world.” — pg. vi
  • They discovered the element “radium.”
  • Pierre was killed in a tragic accident as he was crossing the street.  He was killed by a horse-drawn cart on a rainy night. [2]
  • Marie Curie died July 4, 1934 — age 66 — of bone marrow failure, probably due to exposure to radiation.

When: Pierre Curie was killed in an accident – April 19, 1906 [2]

What: Pierre’s Death & Funeral — Eve Curie writes about her mother’s response to the death of her husband, Pierre.  In Eve’s biography, she relates her mother’s words at the funeral.

We put you into the coffin Saturday morning, and I held your head up for this move. We kissed your cold face for the last time. Then a few periwinkles from the garden on the coffin and the little picture of me that you called “The good little student” and that you loved. It is the picture that must go with you into the grave, the picture of her who had the happiness of so pleasing you that you did not hesitate to offer to share your life with her, even when you had seen her only a few times. You often told me that this was the only occasion in your life when you acted without hesitation, with the absolute conviction that you were doing well. My Pierre, I think you were not wrong. We were made to live together, and our union had to be.

Your coffin was closed and I could see you no more. I didn’t allow them to cover it with the horrible black cloth. I covered it with dowers and I sat beside it.

… They came to get you, a sad company; I looked at them, and did not speak to them. We took you back to Sceaux, and we saw you go down into the big deep hole. Then the dreadful procession of people. They wanted to take us away. Jacques and I resisted. We wanted to see everything to the end. They filled the grave and put sheaves of flowers on it. Everything is over, Pierre is sleeping his last sleep beneath the earth; it is the end of everything, everything, everything. [1]

Key Biblical Thoughts:

  • hope / hopelessness
  • meaninglessness
  • salvation
  • success
  • fame
  • accidents
  • tragedy
  • trials
  • death & dying

Other Information & Links:

1.  Madam Curie, by Eve Curie, pgs. 243-244


2. The Death of Pierre Curie:

“He had been treading the asphalt for several minutes behind a closed cab which slowly rolled along toward the Pont Neuf. At the corner of the street and the Quai, the noise was intense: a tramcar going toward the Place de la Concorde had just passed along the river. Cutting across its route, a heavy wagon drawn by two horses emerged from the bridge and entered the Rue Dauphine at a trot.

Pierre wanted to cross the pavement and reach the other sidewalk. With the sudden movement of an absent-minded man, he abandoned the shelter of the cab, the square box which had been obscuring his view, and made a few steps toward the left. But he ran into one of the horses of the wagon, which was passing the cab at that same second. The space between the two vehicles narrowed dizzily. Surprised, Pierre, in an awkward movement, attempted to hang on to the chest of the animal, which suddenly reared. The scientist’s heels slipped on the wet pavement. A cry arose, made of a dozen shouts of horror: Pierre had fallen beneath the feet of the powerful horses. Pedestrians cried “Stop!  Stop!”  The driver pulled on the reins, but in vain; the team mof horses kept o.

Pierre was down, but alive and unhurt. He did not cry out and hardly moved. His body passed between the feet of the horses without even being touched, and then between the two front wheels of the wagon. A miracle was possible. But the enormous mass, dragged on by its weight of six tons, continued for several yards more. The left back wheel encountered a feeble obstacle which it crused in passing; a forhead, a  human head.  The cranium was shatered and a red, vicous matter trickled in all directions in the mud; the brain of Pierre Curie!

Policemen picked up the warm body, from which life had been taken away in a flash. They hailed several cabs in succession, but no coachman wanted to take into his carriage a dead body covered with mud and dripping with blood. Minutes passed; the curious assembled and crowded round. A thicker and thicker crowd besieged the motionless lorry, and cries of fury broke out against the driver, Louis Manin, the involuntary author of the drama. Finally, two men brought a stretcher. The dead man was laid on it, and, after an unnecessary stop in a pharmacy, was carried to the near-by police station, where his wallet was opened and his papers examined. When the rumour spread that the victim was Pierre Curie, a professor, a celebrated scientist, the tumult doubled and the police had to intervene to protect the driver Manin, threatened by many fists. — pgs . 239-240


PDF link to additional pages from Eve’s Curie’s biography

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