Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo

Every year, the Capuchin monastery in Palermo, Sicily attracts hordes of visitors. Most have little interest in the monastery itself--they come to see what lies beneath it. Lined up on the walls of underground crypts are thousands upon thousands of the most remarkable mummies in the Western world.

It all started in 1599 when a monk by the name of Silvestro de Gubbio was mummified and placed in the monastery's catacombs. Soon, having your corpse preserved and hung on the wall was all the rage, and Palermo's big-shots paid good money to be put on display in their finest duds.

Inside the crypts, there are separate halls devoted to the mummies of professionals, priests, women, and men. Many of the deceased still sport the hats, hoop skirts, or neckerchiefs that were fashionable in their day. There are also a remarkable number of children to be seen. In fact Palermo's most famous mummy is that of Rosalia Lombardo, who died in 1920 at the age of two. She's so perfectly preserved that she's known as the "Sleeping Beauty."

Rosalia (shown below) was one of the last to be interred in the Capuchin catacombs. She lies surrounded by more than 8000 of her fellow mummies, and you can pay your respects to all of them by clicking here.


Anonymous Claire Maine-inn said...

Wow that is so awesome I totally want to go there now I bet my mom will take me if i ask and talk to you soon on the 19th

10:32 PM  
Blogger International Mastermind said...

So cute... So dead...

6:31 AM  
Blogger Spring said...

Now I want to go there!

11:13 AM  

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