In Rome, Italy there exists a strange and beautiful museum with a history dating back thousands of years. It is a must-see.
Il Convento dei Cappuccini (The Convent of Capuchin) in Rome, Italy is one of those “off the beaten path” museums that boast an interesting history, religious and spiritual meaning, and … three rooms decorated with bones and skulls. It is a small museum of only eight rooms, taking perhaps only an hour to tour.
According to the brochure, “The creation of the museum … is designed to highlight the spirituality of a religious order…” and is set up inside the friary. Tourists learn of the Friars Minor Capuchin, to include viewing books and journals dating back to the 1600’s. The last part of the tour is The Capuchin Crypt.
Created in the early 1800s, the crypt was originally built because more room was necessary for the bones of exhumed friars; the cemetery was not large enough. The bones of both friars and paupers (those who could not afford burial) were arranged in ornamental splendor. No one knows the true artist(s) name(s). The skulls and bones are arranged to create murals, walls of skulls, and designs; bits of preserved flesh can still be seen on some of the skulls.
Two pelvic bones and a skull are turned into a flower. Vertebras are arranges to create arches. Two skeletons of twin boys are part of a shrine, added at the request of their mother as a tribute. The rooms demand careful inspection, for everywhere the visitor looks there is something small and artistic to catch the eye.
While some may consider the art gruesome or even “sick,” there is a simple yet complex message: we all have one thing in common as death is inevitable; “what I am, you will be; what you are, I once was.” Death is a part of life. Viewing the displays reminds you to appreciate life and live your best, for there is no second chance on earth.
City Wonders Tour Company offers a “Rome Crypts and Catacombs Tour” describing “the bone chapel” as “Capuchin monks (using) the bones of 4,000 of their brothers to decorate the walls and ceilings … a real skull and crossbones, vertebrae chandeliers and full skeletons in their robes.” The tour boasts a 4.94 (out of 5) review. Besides a prolonged tour of the “bone chapel,” visitors learn history and trivia. An example: the beverage cappuccino is named after the color of the robes worn by the Capuchin monks. Photos are not allowed, but a video of the “bone rooms” can be seen HERE.
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