In this post I have featured two of the most weird
churches, these churches are decorated with bones.
The 40,000 skeletons within Sedlec Ossuary
(aka Kostnice Ossuary Beinhaus) in the
Czech Republic welcome you, quite literally,
with open arms. Known to most as “The Bone Church,”
it displays some of the world’s more macabre art.
In addition to a splendid bone chandelier composed
from almost every bone in a human body, the ossuary
displays two large bone chalices, four baroque bone candelabras, six enormous bone pyramids, two bone monstrances (a vessel used to display the Eucharistic host),
a family crest in (you guessed it) bone, and skull
candleholders. Festively looping chains of bone are hung throughout like crepe paper at a birthday party.
Sedlec Ossuary has a long history, beginning in the
13th century when the Abbot of the Sedlec Monastery
(Abbot Henry) brought a handful of earth back from
a journey to the Grave of the Lord in Jerusalem.
He scattered this “holy soil” across the Sedlec cemetery, securing its place as one of the most desired burial sites
for people all over Bohemia and the surrounding countries. Everyone wanted to be buried in that handful of
the Holy Land and more than 30,000 were.
But it wasn’t long before there simply wasn’t enough
room for everyone to rest in peace, and the bodies were
moved to a crypt to make room for the newly dead.
2nd is Portugal’s Chapel of Bones, 16th Century Franciscan
monks used 42 cemeteries worth of bones to
decorate their chapel.
The Chapel of Bones is entered through a large arch
bearing the words: Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos: “Our bones that are here wait for yours!”
The purpose of the Chapel is made clear by a poem,
written by Father Antonio da Ascencao,
that hangs from one pillars:
Where are you going in such a hurry traveler?
Pause... do not advance your travel;
You have no greater concern
Than this one: that on which you focus your sight.
Recall how many have passed from this world,
Reflect on your similar end,
There is good reason to reflect
If only all did the same.
Ponder, you so influenced by fate,
Among all the many concerns of the world,
So little do you reflect on death;
If by chance you glance at this place,
Stop... for the sake of your journey,
The more you pause, the further on your journey you will be.
(translated by Rev. Carlos A. Martins)