So here’s a good place to confront your mortality. The Church of All Saints Ossuary, aka the Czech bone church, in Sedlec-Kutná Hora, Czech Republic.
The story goes: A Cistercian abbey with underground chapel in Sedlec was founded in 1142. One of Sedlec abbots traveled to Jerusalem in 1278 and brought back a handful of dirt which he scattered in the monastery’s cemetery. With this, the cemetery became known as a Holy Field (oldest in Central Europe), thus it become a very desirable place to be buried. The over-crowded cemetery was expanded during Plague in 1318 (where 30,000 people died), and during the Hussite wars.
Around 1400 a new church was built. It would have an underground chapel to house the bones of those displaced by the building (presumably the mass graves from the plague and war) and those who were simply dug to make room for others. The bones were exhumed by a near blind monk and stacked in and outside the underground chapel.
In 1784 Emperor Joseph II. abolished the monasteries, and the cemetery fell into the hands of the Schwarzenberg family. (That is their coat of arms in bones.) In 1870, the family hired Francis Rint, a Czech builder, to put the piles of bones in order. This is what he created…from the bones of about 40,000 people.
Rint’s masterpiece is the chandelier in the center; it’s constructed with at least one of every bone in the human body and surrounded by four spires of skulls.
Thoughts: Smaller than I expected, but worth the price of admission—60 KC (about 2.50€). Cool to finally see something like this. When we were in Paris, the catacombs flooded. When we in Rome, I was too slutty with my exposed knee caps to get in the Capuchin crypt. Too inappropriate in shorts to see a baby grim reaper constructed of human bones. Think about that for a minute.
M O R E P H O T O S
From Sedlec Ossuary bone church. Shot April 14, 2012. Sedlec-Kutná Hora, Czech Republic