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HomeGreek PhilosphyThe Eerie Charm of Sedlec Ossuary: A Gothic Masterpiece of Human Bones

The Eerie Charm of Sedlec Ossuary: A Gothic Masterpiece of Human Bones

Deep beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints in Sedlec, Czech Republic, a chilling monument to human mortality has been rigorously crafted over the centuries. Decorated with the bones of over 40,000 souls, the small Roman Catholic chapel is adorned with bone chandeliers, candelabras crafted from femurs, and even household crests and monstrances. The eerie Sedlec Ossuary is now one of the preferred vacationer locations within the area, drawing in guests who’re each fascinated and unsettled by the somber shows. But whereas some could discover the bone church macabre and even grotesque, others see it as a poignant reflection of the assumption that the physique is merely a brief vessel for the soul.

A coat of arms made of bones in Sedlec Ossuary bone church. (Pudelek / CC)

A coat of arms made of bones in Sedlec Ossuary bone church. ( Pudelek / CC)

Origins of the Bone Church

The chapel has a protracted historical past, starting in 1142 when a Cistercian monastery was based in Sedlec. One of the duties of the monks was the cultivation of the grounds across the monastery.  In 1278, King Otakar II of Bohemia despatched the Abbot of Sedlec Monastery (Abbot Henry) on a diplomatic mission to the Holy Land. When he returned from Jerusalem, he introduced again a handful of earth from Golgotha and he scattered the ‘holy soil’ over the cemetery of Sedlec monastery. From then on, it turned probably the most desired place to be buried within the area.

People throughout Bohemia and Central Europe, significantly rich individuals, requested that they be buried within the holy cemetery, and lots of had been. A resolution was wanted to deal with the inflow and so in 1511, an ossuary was constructed to retailer the skeletal stays. An ossuary is steadily used when burial area is scarce. A physique is first buried in a brief grave after which after some years, the skeletal stays are positioned within the crypt or ossuary.  This activity was given to a half-blind monk who spent his time gathering bones and stacking them to make room for the brand new our bodies coming into the cemetery.

Bursting With Bones After the Black Plague

The capability of the cemetery was to turn into stretched even additional when the Black Plague broke out within the 14 th century and hundreds of residents who succumbed to the illness wanted to be promptly buried.  Added to this was the Hussite wars within the first quarter of the 15 th century, which led to hundreds extra deaths.  It wasn’t lengthy earlier than the cemetery was actually bursting on the seams. In Sedlec, the bones of tens of hundreds of individuals had been moved into the protected storage of the crypt, which turned generally known as  Sedlec Ossuary .

The chandelier made of bones in Sedlec Ossuary (Pudelek / CC)

The chandelier made of bones in Sedlec Ossuary ( Pudelek / CC)

A nineteenth Century Masterpiece Emerges

In 1870, an area woodcarver, František Rint was employed for the darkish activity of placing the bone heaps into order. And that he did! Rint spent years assembling the bones, however not into close to piles in opposition to the partitions. Rather, Rint used his creative abilities to create a masterpiece, which is now generally known as ‘The Church of Bones’. The bones had been used as a ornament and superimposed over the pre-existing construction of the Church made of bricks and stone.  He bleached the bones so as to give the room a uniform look and set about forming his creations, together with candelabras, altars and coat of arms.  But probably the most spectacular piece of artwork is the central chandelier, which was constructed with no less than one piece of each bone current within the human physique.

Sedlec Ossuary, Kutna Hora. (Nick M / Flickr)

Sedlec Ossuary, Kutna Hora. ( Nick M / Flickr )

Ossuaries of Europe

Ossuaries aren’t distinctive to Sedlec within the Czech Republic. There are many examples of ossuaries throughout Europe, together with the Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini in Rome, Italy, the San Bernardino alle Ossa in Milan, Italy, and the Skull Chapel in Czermna, Poland. Another well-known ossuary is the Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of bones) situated in Évora, Portugal. The more moderen Douaumont ossuary in France comprises the stays of greater than 130,000 French and German troopers that fell on the Battle of Verdun throughout World War I.

These ossuaries had been created to accommodate the stays of hundreds of people in response to the shortage of area for conventional burials. They have turn into well-liked vacationer points of interest as a consequence of their distinctive and eerie aesthetic, in addition to their historic significance.

The bone church of Sedlec is a singular and eerie reminder of human mortality and the historic affect of the Black Plague and wars on European society. The creative and symbolic use of human bones within the chapel could be seen as each a type of remembrance and a mirrored image of the assumption that the bodily physique is only a short-term vessel for the soul. While some could view the church as morbid or disrespectful, it stays an necessary cultural and historic landmark within the Czech Republic

Top picture: Details at Sedlec Ossuary Interior, Kutna Hora, Czech Republic. Source: diegograndi / Adobe Stock

By Joanna Gillan


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