Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Dem Bones - Our "Prague"-ative: Part 2

In my last post I mentioned that there are a lot of churches in the Czech Republic. No bones about it, that is true. One 'bare bone' church in particular that is worth highlighting, and if you get the opportunity, visiting, is the Sedlec Ossuary. This small Roman Catholic chapel is in Kutná Hora, a village a little more than an hour outside of Prague.

Actually, the Sedlec Ossuary itself is located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints:
The church and cemetery on the outside.



















And has an alternative name, Bone Church. The remains of an estimated 40,000 to 70,000 people are housed here:

One wall inside the church.
Up close and personal with the 'inhabitants'.

You might be asking who are all these people and why are they all buried in this 'church'. Well, in 1278, the abbot of the monastery in Sedlec, was sent to the Holy Land by King Otakar II of Bohemia. He returned with a bit of earth that he removed from Golgotha and sprinkled it over the cemetery. Word of this pious act soon spread and the cemetery in Sedlec became a desirable burial site throughout Central Europe.

Then in the mid 14th century, during the Black Plague, and after the Hussite Wars in the early 15th century, many thousands were buried in the cemetery, so it had to be expanded. After 1511 the job of exhuming the skeletons and stacking them during the expansion was done by a half-blind monk.

Fast forward a few centuries to 1870 when the Schwarzenbergs, a Czech and German aristocratic family, employed a wood carver named František Rint to put the heaps of bones in order. His idea of order became the artistic affect that is there today:
Coat of arms of the Schwarzenbergs.
An artistic post.

The signature of František Rint.
A 'chandelier' in the center.

One of the ways you know you are in a Catholic church.
Another view of the chandelier.

The Czechs have a violent history with many of the remains showing evidence of this:
Ouch.
They are still excavating today.



You might think this a macabre and spooky place, but it actually is not. The bones are thoughtfully displayed and you can feel the humanity in your (and their) bones. It is fascinating more than anything. And the many tourists who were visiting at the same time we were moved through the Ossuary space in hushed reverence.

But make no bones about it, it is a tourist attraction. And there is a gift shop just down the street where you can get your own 'bone-afide' souvenirs:
Lots to choose from.
Mo's 'skeleton key'. Get it?
My poem today is meant to be a rib tickler, but I may have made a fractured attempt:
below the humerus
the funny bone
a bone of contention 
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.

8 comments:

  1. Wow. That is absolutely crazy. I have never seen anything like it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, Liz! It was crazy, but at the same time fascinating. Who'd have thought to arrange human bones in such a way? Apparently, that guy Rint. Thanks for commenting! =)

      Delete
  2. That gift shop is PERFECT for Bro Matt!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we were seeing Matt all over that shop. Mo got a skeleton key and I got a skull pencil. (Just to clarify, it is not made from a real skull.) Hopefully you can shop there next time. =)

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Yeah, we thought it would be creepy too, Sheila, before we visited. But it really was fascinating. The Czechs are very comfortable with death it seems. Thanks for commenting. =)

      Delete
  4. Hmm, maybe it's the Czech in me that does not fear death. Another interesting observation by our family poet. I love your blogs, Bridget. Thank you again for your thought provoking prose and great photos, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank YOU, Jeanette, for commenting and actually thinking of my prose as 'thought provoking'. It means a lot to me. And I'm glad we are family. =)

      Delete