Posted by: David Stewart | November 4, 2011

The Bone Church

The Bone Church - Sedlec, Czech Republic

In the countryside of Bohemia, deep in the Old World, there is a place they call the Bone Church. It looks like a normal church and graveyard on the outside.

It’s a place where you can find the earthly remains of many many people – estimated to be between 40,000 and 70,000 souls. These people lived in the 1300s, the 1400s and 1500s, in a time when there were lots and lots of people dying of wars and plagues to provide the raw materials, and they were originally buried here because some soil from the hold land was sprinkled here in the 1200s.

The Bone Church - Sedlec, Czech Republic

But beyond being just stacked up here, the bones were artistically arranged. There are garlands of skulls, chandeliers of bones, a coat of arms made of bones. The latter has bones laid out to represent a Turkish soldier being pierced in the eye, or at least in the eye socket.

The Bone Church - Sedlec, Czech Republic

This is a required stop on the tourist circuit, and there was quite a crowd of internationals visiting when I was there on Sunday. Even though it was the day before Halloween, there seemed to be an air of dignity. At least when I was there, people were being fairly quiet and respectful and not goofing around.

When faced with such a monumental display of formerly living human matter, I might have expected to feel creepy or something. It actually made me think about how each of these once was a real person. Now it is simply an arrangement of unused calcium deposits. My own body will someday be in a similar state of decay or perhaps just dust. By the time that happens, I trust that I won’t care. Maybe someone can get some humor out of them.

It’s official name is the Sedlec Ossuary.

You can see more of my photos of the Bone church at http://www.flickr.com/photos/davest/tags/bonechurch/.

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