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Palermo

THE CATACOMBS OF THE CAPUCHINS

written by Alexandra Evans

Ostuni città bianca

The Catacombs of the Capuchins are found in the Capuchin convent adjoining the Church of Santa Maria della Pace.
These are built on structures existing at the time. The tunnels were dug at the end of the sixteenth century and form a large rectangular cemetery. This macabre spectacle to bring death to the visitor is a celebration of life itself; it teaches us how fragile human beings are attached to earthly things, that sooner or later end up.

There are on display about eight thousand corpses; we do not know the exact number, because they have never been inventoried. But we know for certain that the first to be buried in the catacombs was Brother Silvestro Da Gubbio on October 16, 1599. We find him on the left immediately after entering.
Several other bodies still belong to the order of the Capuchin friars, the cemetery was infact originally the convent.
The rest of the mummies in their earthly life belonged to the highest social classes, that would afford the embalming. The bodies are lying down or standing, divided by gender and social class: middle-class merchants, dressed in their "Sunday" dress, army officers in gala uniform, young virgins, who died before they could marry, dressed in their wedding dress, family groups placed high up on shelves, separated by narrow railings like balconies, children and so on.

This is perhaps the most famous mummy of a child, Rosalia Lombardo, embalmed in 1920, who died just at two years old. The child is located at the bottom of the first corridor on the left and it seems intact, as if he were sleeping, hence its nickname "Sleeping Beauty".

  • Internal exposition
    Internal exposition

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