Amazing Places

The Capuchin Crypt Is Decorated With Thousands Of Monk Skeletons

Though it's not meant to be a macabre sight, the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini is pretty spine-tingling. This Roman church is decorated with the skeletal remains of more than 4,000 human bodies. How's that for interior decorating?

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Crypt of the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini

Don't Leave Us Behind!

The Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini crypt, as known as the Capuchin Crypt, is striking, to say the least. There are bones from thousands of skeletons adorning the walls, ceilings, and even lighting fixtures in the crypt, which inhabits a small space comprising a few tiny chapels beneath the church. But don't be scared—it's all in honor of the dead. In 1631, the Capuchin friars left their friary near the Trevi Fountain, and moved into the Santa Maria della Concezione. The Pope's brother ordered the group of friars to bring with them their deceased fellow friars with them. (Sounds like quite the road trip.) The friars brought the remains to their new home in Rome, and got pretty creative with them in the crypt.

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Skulls of Capuchin friars decorate the walls.

The Bones Have A Message

A plaque in the crypt reads: "What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be." Think of this as a humble reminder, rather than a chilling warning. The friars wrote that passage and decorated the crypt in order to remind themselves that they must always be ready for God, and that death could come at any time. The message is strong, as the presence of the intricate bone designs and mummified friars is inescapable.

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And if you think that's weird, there are even different rooms devoted to different body parts, like "The Crypt of Shin Bones and Thigh Bones" and the "Crypt of Pelvises." At the very least, these friars deserve serious kudos for creativity.

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The History Of The Capuchin Crypt

Written By Curiosity Staff February 17, 2017