02 January 2010

Bones and Skulls: Capela dos Ossos

On the last day of 2009 Chintz of Darkness posted intriguing photos of Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic that contains skeletons of 40,000 to 70,000 people used as architectural decoration and furnishing. As a result of the Black Plague mass graves of bones existed in Sedlec and in the 19th century the artisan František Rint was employed to put the bones creatively in order. He was not the first to use funereal artistry. Capela dos Ossos a small chapel at the Igreja de São Francisco in Évora, Portugal is another example of macabre art. The city located in the Alentejo Province is home to a Roman Temple dedicated to the Goddess Diana. The contemplative chapel was built in the 16th century and has the warning Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos (“We bones here, for yours await”). As with the ossuary the chapel's unique design motif was the practical solution for the contents of monastic cemeteries that needed relocation. The Franciscan monks covered the walls and pillars of the chapel with skulls and bones to remind the wealthy inhabitants of the town of their own mortality. Displaying the dead is not unique to these two locations: Catacombs of the Capuchins in Palermo, St. Michan's Church, Dublin and Museo de las Momias in Guanajuato are a few other places where death is on display.

Thanks Seraph + Splendor for the inspiration!


  1. Thank you for your interesting comment on my blog. I see we have some of the same obsessions and I will certainly be back for more! A very happy year to you in 2010.

  2. Thank you for the mention - we seriously appreciate it! You have such a lovely blog - we always enjoy our time here!

  3. You are welcome and kind regards!

  4. Kendra-
    Great post! I had not heard of a couple of the locations you make note of.
    Happy New Year!
    David @ Ashfield Hansen Design

  5. Yes it was the ultimate in recycling! Happy New Year!

  6. Fascinating post. I have read of these, but have not yet visited them. The history of mankind and its art can be so amazing.

    Your blog is lovely - thank you for putting your heart into it.

  7. Thank you Author, I have been enjoying your blog also. Best, Kendra


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