Boxwood statuette of Death holding an egg-timer.German, 18th century; from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Boxwood statuette of Death holding an egg-timer.

German, 18th century; from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

This story is no longer news, but still fascinating.
Check out this slideshow on Discovery News about the pyramid-shaped pile of bodies—nearly 300 total, about 100 of them naturally mummified—found in a church crypt in the mountain town of Roccapelago, Italy. 
The History Blog also has an article about it:

The unusual preservation was due to a confluence of the consistently cold temperature and two slots in the church wall that kept the air constantly circulating. The vaulted crypt — used as an armory when the church was a fortress in the Middle Ages — was first used for traditional inhumation under ground, but the practice later changed to corpses being dropped from a trap door in the church.

Image: Photograph by Paolo Terzi/SBAER, via the History Blog.

This story is no longer news, but still fascinating.

Check out this slideshow on Discovery News about the pyramid-shaped pile of bodies—nearly 300 total, about 100 of them naturally mummified—found in a church crypt in the mountain town of Roccapelago, Italy. 

The History Blog also has an article about it:

The unusual preservation was due to a confluence of the consistently cold temperature and two slots in the church wall that kept the air constantly circulating. The vaulted crypt — used as an armory when the church was a fortress in the Middle Ages — was first used for traditional inhumation under ground, but the practice later changed to corpses being dropped from a trap door in the church.

Image: Photograph by Paolo Terzi/SBAER, via the History Blog.

Dazed & Confused: Interview with Paul Koudounaris about his book "Empire of Death"

It took me long enough, but I finally ordered a copy of this book this morning. If you need me in the next 5 to 7 days business days, I’ll be near the mailbox.

From the interview:

There is something hypocritical about modern mortuary practices. We don’t want the dead around at all any more, so we ask the deceased to play out one last scene as a living person, dressed and made up as if they are still alive—whereas the natural state of a corpse is putrefaction. It strikes me as escapist and fictive.

Read the whole thing. Even better: Buy the book!


Photograph by Paul Koudounaris, from his book The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses.

One of the twelve martyred saints on display in Waldsassen, Bavaria, near the Czech border. They’re known as the Holy Bodies.
The skeletons were exhumed from the Roman catacombs sometime between 1688 and 1765. Then they got all spiffy.
Gucci says, “Burr.”
Image source: Luxe et Vanités.

One of the twelve martyred saints on display in Waldsassen, Bavaria, near the Czech border. They’re known as the Holy Bodies.

The skeletons were exhumed from the Roman catacombs sometime between 1688 and 1765. Then they got all spiffy.

Gucci says, “Burr.”

Image source: Luxe et Vanités.

rest by Incognita Nom de Plume on Flickr.

Corpse on display in the Capuchin Crypt, Palermo, Sicily, Italy

rest by Incognita Nom de Plume on Flickr.

Corpse on display in the Capuchin Crypt, Palermo, Sicily, Italy

Check out this page. Loads of images and an account of a trip to the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo, Sicily.

Dressed for Eternity is a short slideshow of images of the mummies in the Capuchin catacombs of Palermo by photographer Paolo Ventura. Here’s one:

Most of the images focus on the mummies’ outfits. Check it out.

These are some monks.
How do I know they’re monks? Because they’re in the “Monks’ Corridor” of the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo, Sicily; that’s how. (Or at least that’s what Wikipedia says.) There are about 8000 (dressed-up) mummies lining the walls of the catacombs, and the halls are categorized: Men, Women, Virgins, Children, Priests, Monks, and Professionals. More posts and images to come in the next few days.
Image Source: Wikipedia.

These are some monks.

How do I know they’re monks? Because they’re in the “Monks’ Corridor” of the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo, Sicily; that’s how. (Or at least that’s what Wikipedia says.) There are about 8000 (dressed-up) mummies lining the walls of the catacombs, and the halls are categorized: Men, Women, Virgins, Children, Priests, Monks, and Professionals. More posts and images to come in the next few days.

Image Source: Wikipedia.

This is the “Women’s Corridor” of the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo, Sicily.
I’ve been meaning to post about this place for months. There are so many mummies in these catacombs, and pictures of them (and their finery) on the internet, that I must admit I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’ll be posting more images and links in the coming days via my queue. 
In the meantime, here’s a little more background on the catacombs from Wikipedia:

Originally the catacombs were intended only for the dead friars. However, in the following centuries it became a status symbol to be entombed into the Capuchin catacombs. In their wills, local luminaries would ask to be preserved in certain clothes, or even to have their clothes changed at regular intervals. Priests wore their clerical vestments, others were clothed according to the contemporary fashion. Relatives would visit to pray for the deceased and also to maintain the body in presentable condition. The catacombs were maintained through the donations of the relatives of the deceased. Each new body was placed in a temporary niche and later placed into a more permanent place. As long as the contributions continued, the body remained in its proper place but when the relatives did not send money any more, the body was put aside on a shelf until they continued to pay.

Image Source: Wikipedia.

This is the “Women’s Corridor” of the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo, Sicily.

I’ve been meaning to post about this place for months. There are so many mummies in these catacombs, and pictures of them (and their finery) on the internet, that I must admit I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’ll be posting more images and links in the coming days via my queue. 

In the meantime, here’s a little more background on the catacombs from Wikipedia:

Originally the catacombs were intended only for the dead friars. However, in the following centuries it became a status symbol to be entombed into the Capuchin catacombs. In their wills, local luminaries would ask to be preserved in certain clothes, or even to have their clothes changed at regular intervals. Priests wore their clerical vestments, others were clothed according to the contemporary fashion. Relatives would visit to pray for the deceased and also to maintain the body in presentable condition. The catacombs were maintained through the donations of the relatives of the deceased. Each new body was placed in a temporary niche and later placed into a more permanent place. As long as the contributions continued, the body remained in its proper place but when the relatives did not send money any more, the body was put aside on a shelf until they continued to pay.

Image Source: Wikipedia.

Mummies in glass cases stand watch over the altar of the tiny Chiesa dei Morti (Church of the Dead) in Urbania, Italy. From About.com’s article on the site:

Eighteen mummies, each standing in a glass case were put on display in 1833 behind the altar. These bodies were naturally mummified by the presence of a special mold that absorbed moisture from the corpses. […]
If there’s a guide available when you visit, the guide will tell you about how each of the mummies died. You’ll see a young Down’s syndrome corpse who died of heart failure, a woman who died during a caesarian birth (as was always the case during medieval times), and a murder victim. The mummies display a variety of health problems common during the middle ages.

Image via Atlas Obscura.

Mummies in glass cases stand watch over the altar of the tiny Chiesa dei Morti (Church of the Dead) in Urbania, Italy. From About.com’s article on the site:

Eighteen mummies, each standing in a glass case were put on display in 1833 behind the altar. These bodies were naturally mummified by the presence of a special mold that absorbed moisture from the corpses. […]

If there’s a guide available when you visit, the guide will tell you about how each of the mummies died. You’ll see a young Down’s syndrome corpse who died of heart failure, a woman who died during a caesarian birth (as was always the case during medieval times), and a murder victim. The mummies display a variety of health problems common during the middle ages.

Image via Atlas Obscura.

This is the crypt beneath the Capuchin Church in Brno, Czech Republic, containing 24 mummified bodies of Capuchin monks neatly laid out in rows, dressed in robes. From Atlas Obscura:

the Capuchin monks […] placed their deceased brothers beneath the church over a period of 300 years. This practice was banned by hygiene laws towards the end of the 18th century.
Mummification was never the intention. In keeping with their vow of poverty, the monks thriftily re-used a single coffin time and time again. After the funerary rites, they would move the deceased into the crypt, and lay him to rest on a pillow of bricks. The dry air currents and composition of the topsoil gradually preserved the bodies where they lay.

This is the crypt beneath the Capuchin Church in Brno, Czech Republic, containing 24 mummified bodies of Capuchin monks neatly laid out in rows, dressed in robes. From Atlas Obscura:

the Capuchin monks […] placed their deceased brothers beneath the church over a period of 300 years. This practice was banned by hygiene laws towards the end of the 18th century.

Mummification was never the intention. In keeping with their vow of poverty, the monks thriftily re-used a single coffin time and time again. After the funerary rites, they would move the deceased into the crypt, and lay him to rest on a pillow of bricks. The dry air currents and composition of the topsoil gradually preserved the bodies where they lay.

Another garbed skeleton from Waldsassen Basilica. Source: Morbid Anatomy.

Another garbed skeleton from Waldsassen Basilica. Source: Morbid Anatomy.

Skeletons, mummies, bog bodies, exhumations. The dead, and what happens to them.

About | Archive

Categories:
Meet This Dead Person
Feats of Preservation
Skulls and Skeletons
Bog Bodies
Mummies
Ossuaries and Bone Architecture
Incorruptibles and Saintly Relics
Exhumations
When Famous People Die
When Dead People Turn to Soap
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     Made to Look Alive

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     Business of Death

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     the Dead

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     (mis)Adventures

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