I wanted to see one of the many Catacombs of Rome, but since they were out of the way and out of the main area, I settled on seeing the Capuchin Crypt. The crypt of bones is composed of six rooms beneath a chapel. About 4,000 Capuchin monks’ bones were decorated in intricate patterns, covering the walls and ceilings of the crypt. We saw chandeliers made out of bones, hanging above us as we walked through each room. Bones were nailed to the walls, some stacked, and some friars’ skeletons were in one piece under their robes. Some looked like they had been mummified. We saw one monk whose skeletal face still had some skin remains preserved while his eyes were closed.
Some of the other rooms also had burial sites with monks laid to rest in peace beneath the Earth’s soil. The six rooms are Crypt of the Resurrection, The Mass Chapel, Crypt of the Skulls, Crypt of the Pelvis, Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones, and Crypt of the Three Skeletons. Each of the rooms were neatly organized and maintained. It was quite impressive, and the standing or lying skeletons were astonishing to look at because it made me wonder of the once living soul that those skeletons used to be. Underneath their original friar robes, their skeletal bodies looked sullen and somewhat peaceful.
The Capuchin Crypt is not meant to be macabre, but a reminder of how life is short — of our own mortality. And I didn’t find it creepy. I understood the message the crypt was conveying. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed. I regret not being able to share the experience I saw, but I snatched a couple of photos I found on the web from Wikipedia to give readers an idea.
Despite the brevity of the visit, I’m glad I saw it. The experience was somber, and because of the history of the Capuchin Friars, I found it even more fascinating.