Monday, November 30, 2009

10 Residents of the Capuchin Catacombs

10 Capuchin Catacomb Hallway
16th Century to 1920

The Capuchin Catacombs are located in the city of Palermo, which is the capital of Sicily. Interred in the Capuchin Catacombs are approximately 8000 corpses dating from the 1500’s to 1920. In the early 16th century, the church originally meant to preserve and make accessible the bodies of monks and friars in order to ask for their intercessions – face to face. The trend caught on, and soon the general populous also wanted to be preserved and buried in the catacombs so families can visit them.

9 Brother Silvestro of Gubbio

Brother Silvestro is the oldest monk to be buried in the Capuchin Catacombs. It’s fascinating to observe his clothing. The simple headpiece, the humble brown robe. You can easily imagine him walking the monastery grounds, praying at the altar, drawing water, and eking out a living with his fellow brothers.

8 Priests

Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals have traditionally dressed themselves to the hilt! Alas, look at them now. Once powerful men, now powerful men of the catacombs. Dressed in opposite fashion of the humble monks and nuns, imagine the colors, the excitement, and the pomp and circumstance at the time when these church leaders ran about the city and cathedrals amidst the horse clops and aromas of incense and pasta sauce. Still today, especially in Rome, a person can observe ornate high ranking church officials in their colorful garb bustle about in the modern world.

7 Two Painting Brothers

As monks, nuns, and priests filled the catacombs, the common folk wanted in on the action. This photo is fascinating because these two corpses are brothers, painters, and just ordinary men. As I study their coats and headwear, I wonder what they painted. Frescoes? Eateries? Homes and fences and other popular demands? Did they do restoration work on prominent art? Regardless, a lot of beauty flowed through those hands. Who knows? Their handy work is probably still visible today!

6 Screamers

These corpses are not really screaming. This is the natural result of decaying muscle and ligaments with the help of gravity. Very shocking and eerie at first, but really very natural and scientific.

5 Woman and Child

Dusty, centuries old mummies may or may not muster much emotional feeling. But the woman and child shown here not only invoke feelings, but elicit curiosity to the histories they have to tell us. It was fashionable for a time to pose bodies as they were in life. Here the woman, maybe a mother with her daughter, are dressed very sharply for all to remember. Wonderfully preserved for generations in their beautiful dresses. Quite possibly victims of an illness or epidemic that struck it’s victims indiscriminately. A brutal reminder that there are forces beyond our control.

4 Teacher’s Department

Capuchin Catacomb has divisions for men, women, children, professionals, and more. Here is a group of teachers. They may have taught children reading, writing, arithmetic, or maybe they taught higher levels of education. Maybe they were liberal with rulers and switch sticks! But one thing is clear – though here they lay, even today we reap the rewards from their work done generations ago. They educated the masses in their time. Their pupils built on, worked from, and refined that education throughout the ages. Teachers of all ages are one of the most important and fundamental needs of civilization. Their bodies are temporal. Their work eternal.

3 Colonel Enea Di Giuliano
France – 1848

The Colonel, in a French Bourbon uniform, is an outstanding relic from the past. His uniform floods the imagination of what an officer’s life might have been like in the 1800’s. What code of conduct did he adhere to? Was he a formally educated noble or did he earn his rank through hard work and battle? I can easily imagine this proud man standing at attention, or demanding attention from subordinates. His hat atop his head, cradled in his arms, or sitting proudly in front of him at his desk.

2 Bartolomeo Megna
“the Giant”

Bartolomeo Megna’s hands are tied, not because he was a prisoner, but to keep them folded in front of him. Similarly, if you further pursue other mummies in the catacombs, you will notice many methods of fastening. Limbs have been known to fall off from time to time. Bartolomeo Megna was a big fellow. He may have had a few friends of smaller stature who looked up to him as friend and protector. Who knows?

1 Rosalia Lombardo
The Sleeping Beauty – 1920

This photo gets me down every time I see it. Rosalia was only two years old when she passed away to what is believed to be Pneumonia. But she has a special place in the hearts of visitors and caretakers. She was the last to be interred at the Capuchin Catacombs in 1920.

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