Bones Become Art

by MSO

As well as the chandelier, there are strings of skulls and bones hanging from the ceiling, skull candelabra and a display case showing skulls with wounds inflicted by various medieval weapons.

Ranging from complex underground crypts to simple wooden boxes, ossuaries, or bone houses as they are sometimes referred as, are a facility for the storage of human bones and are often visited for the architectural features and innovative uses of bones as decorative fixtures, such as chandeliers, wall decorations and flooring.

In several world religions, ossuaries play a vital role due to the practice of body exhumation after a burial. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, bodies were exhumed after several years of being buried so the bones could be transferred to an ossuary. In a common tradition, after a body is exhumed, its moral righteousness is determined based on the condition of its remains.

However, in the Catholic Church, an ossuary is used to house the relics of saints, allowing for deeply religious individuals to make pilgrimages to these ossuaries so they can look upon saints and other sacred individuals of the church.

One of the most historical ossuaries in the world is the Sedlec ossuary located in Sedlec, Czech Republic. This ossuary garnered its fame when in 1278 the King of Bohemia sent the abbot of the Sedlec Cistercian Monastery to Jerusalem. When the abbot returned, he brought with him a jar of soil from Golgotha that was known as Holy Soil.

Soon people from all over wanted to be buried in Sedlec, necessitating an expansion of the cemetery, however, in the fifteenth century, a Gothic church was built near the cemetery and its basement was used as an ossuary to house the bones.

For centuries the bones stayed there until 1870 when a woodcarver named Frantisek Rindt was given the task of decorating the chapel with the bones, resulting in the arrangement and customization of over 40,000 bones.

Read more:

Sedlec Ossuary: The Church of Bones | Sedlec Ossuary

What is an Ossuary? | Wise Geek

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