Saturday, June 03, 2006

Cimitero dei Cappuccini

I'm in a bit of a funk these days. Worried about finances, family, work, life, et al. I will spare you the details. So when DH asked me if I wanted to see a cemetary full of bones I didn't hesitate to mutter "sure. okay." That's the kinda mood I've been feeling these days. Yeah, fine, whatever, it doesn't matter, there's not much I can do to rectify things, it's hopeless anyway. It was fitting then that he took me to the center on Via Vento to see the Cimitero dei Cappuccini (Cemetery of the Capuchins). It certainly was not what I was expecting.

The crypt is located just under Santa Maria della Concezione, a church commissioned by Pope Urban XIII in 1626. The crypt supposedly contains the remains of 4,000 monks buried between 1500-1870, during which time the Papal States permitted burial in and under churches. The underground crypt is divided into five chapels lit only by dim natural light seeping in through cracks, and small fluorescent lamps which cast strange shadows.
It is really creepy. If you look closely in these pictures you will notice that indeed those are human skulls and bones that
decorate the cavernous walls. The ceilings are embellished in floral patterns as if emulating a Ravenna mosaic (with a touch of Baroque chiaroscuro and morose color palettes and a bit of Rococo flamboyancy thrown in as well) . And those monks standing against the skulls and lounging in the arch are skeletons as well.

As we passed through each chapel I realized that the monks were not buried underneath us but it was their bones indeed that adorned the walls. I am blaming this slow realization on my shock at seeing so many skulls at one time in person and this being the closest in proximity I think I have ever been to human bones. I could literally breathe on them, just reach over the small iron gate and touch them. In fact, I noticed there were some initials carved into a few. Even the lamps were made out of some woven design of bones. Creepy, really creepy. I suppose the message was supposed to suggest the ephemerality of life, how we must live to our fullest and make every moment count. Don't dwell on the negative, enjoy life now (wait that sounds like a Vodafone commercial), well, you get the idea.


Blogger Gia-Gina said...

No kidding that this was creepy. Yikes! Still facinating too.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006 3:07:00 AM  

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