One of the more fascinating and dare I say haunting encounters one has while traveling is the relics and incorruptible bodies found in churches throughout the world. Some are hard to find, such as the incorruptible body of St. Antoninus of Florence. He’s in the far back corner of the Church of San Marco, which is not found in many guidebooks. Others are prominently displayed, like St. John Vianney. With his head tilted slightly as if waiting to hear a confession, he’s above the main altar in the Sanctuaire d’Ars, in Ars, France.
As many are celebrating Halloween and we are approaching All Saints Day, I would like to present to you some of the strangest relics and incorruptible bodies one can find. I mean, really, why pay to be chased around a haunted house by some guy wielding a chainsaw when you can visit these places that are both peculiar and holy?
One of most curious examples of the dead on display is in the Capuchin Crypt of Santa Maria dell’Immacolata Concezione in Rome. The crypt contains six chapels, five of which are decorated in the bones of the deceased friars. And by decorated I do not mean a few bones placed in reliquaries. No, they went all out. Just look at the names of these chapels: Crypt of the Skulls, Crypt of the Pelvises, Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones, and the Crypt of the Three Skeletons. The bones of over 4000 monks who died between 1528 and 1870 artistically line the walls and ceilings. They have chandeliers made of bones, arches, floral arrangements and even a clock, all made from bones. Some of the monks are still intact. These are in various poses. Some resting in niches, some mounted on the wall and a few are hanging from the ceiling.
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