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:
|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?|
below the humerus
the funny bone
a bone of contention
©2018, Bridget Magee. All Rights Reserved.