The Sedlec Ossuary, also known as the Bone Church in the Czech Republic, is considered to be among the creepiest chapels in Europe as it houses over 40,000 corpses who died during the Black Death.
Historical records indicate that a local abbot during the 13th century was commissioned by the King of Bohemia to go to Jerusalem. The abbot then brought some soil from the Holy Land and “sprinkled” it across the Sedlec cemetery.
Not long after, the cemetery began to be filled with new corpses because there was a belief that there is no holier soil to be buried in than soil from the Holy Land. People thought that this the cemetery where the sacred dirt was placed, was the next best thing to being buried in the Holy Land.
Photo: A Catholic ossuary in Sedlec, Czech Republic, holds the bones of at least 40,000 people https://t.co/ZnUukPZZNV
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Unfortunately, the cemetery began to fill up with corpses, and soon after there was no more room left for more. In addition, a monastery abbot also wanted to build the Church of All Saints within an existing cemetery.
The abbot chose the Sedlec cemetery, and so corpse digging began. According to some reports, about 40,000 to 70,000 corpses from the Black Death (Bubonic Plague), as well as in some wars were dug up one by one, and stacked on top of each other.
A half-blind monk allegedly placed the bones in an ossuary chapel below the church. However, the process was not easy as he reportedly needed to wait until worms have eaten up of the corpses’ flesh in order for him to stack the bones more efficiently.
Learn More About the Czech Republic’s Human Bones Church
Starting in 1511, the monk spent much of his adult life putting the bones of tens of thousands of people inside the underground chapel. The monks of the time considered the place as “memento mori,” which means that it served as a reminder to people that everyone will perish and leave the physical world.
However in 1860, the aristocratic Schwarzenberg family bought the place and instructed František Rint, a woodcarver, to design the church and the underground ossuary chapel.
The woodcarver then began using different human bones to make decorations inside and outside the building. His most elaborate decoration was a chandelier that reportedly included all the bones in a human body.
Unfortunately, this human bones church is slowly collapsing, mainly due to the fact that the bone foundation is proving to be less than stable.
There are two possible options: one is to painstakingly take out each bone – one at a time – and build the place from scratch. However, that could be dangerous and so the second option is to just wait until the ossuary collapses, and then try to rebuild it again.
The Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic is not the first of its kind. The Skull Chapel in Czermna, Poland, is another example of such an ossuary. Thousands of human bones from people killed in wars, famine, and plagues, were used and meticulously arranged around the chapel’s ceiling and walls.
Human Bones Church in Poland is Creepily Beautiful
It’s been recorded that local Polish priests began gathering human bones for the chapel in 1776 – well before the construction of the Sedlec Ossuary – which has led to speculation that the Skull Chapel was Rint’s inspiration for his macabre work.
Other ossuaries across Europe include the Paris Catacombs, which is considered the largest of its kind in the world, and another located in Brno, Czech Republic, which is the largest in the country. Based on history, ossuaries were popular in the 16th century to remind people that death is inevitable.
Today, the Sedlec Ossuary, or the human bones church has other bones as decorations. These bones come from birds and other animals, and used for bone crosses and bone heraldry.
[Image via YouTube]