“Remember man, you are dust and to dust you shall return” Genesis 3:19
Tucked away on Via Vittorio Veneto in Rome, Italy, underneath a church, is a fascinating museum with thousands of grave reminders of how fleeting life is.
In what once was a monastery, now is the Museum and Crypt of the Capuchin Friars.
This sacred Catholic site is holds thousands of human remains. It is believed that Catholic monks spent their days in prayer while carefully designing mosaic-like array of the bones of their brothers in Christ. They are placed in several tiny chapels located beneath the church. The art that adorns the walls is created from various long bones, short bones, skull bones, rib bones and any other bone that fits in a way that helps complete a visually pleasing shape.
The skeletal remains are believed to be Capuchin friars, an order of 16th century monks, who lived in the spirit of the Rule of St. Francis.
The explanation of this the odd practice that some might find to be grotesque, is that this is merely a silent reminder of the swift passage of life on Earth and our own mortality. That this is no more than a deep awareness to practice of gratitude and a reminder to appreciate all we have been given while we’ve got it.
The words nearby explain, “What you are now, we once were; what we are now, you shall be.”
©Karen Pulfer Focht