The Mystery Of The Skeleton Covered With Precious Treasures Discovered Catacombs

The Mystery Of The Skeleton Covered With Precious Treasures Discovered Catacombs

They are known as the Catacomb Saints. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, ancient ROᴍᴀɴ corpses were exhumed from Rome’s catacombs, given fictitious names, and sent abroad as relics of saints. They were quite lavishly adorned.

But why — why would they be lavishly decorated?

The Vatican devised a somewhat odd remedy as the icons in the Catholic churches were being removed one by one. They gave the order to exhume thousands of skeletons from Rome’s catacombs and place them in cities around Gᴇʀᴍᴀɴʏ, Aᴜsᴛʀɪᴀ, and Sᴡɪᴛᴢᴇʀʟᴀɴᴅ. Few, if any, of the corpses belonged to religious figures, but they were all dressed in saintly garb.

In protestant-dominated areas, the skeletons became macabre icons of Catholicism. It’s unclear whether this tactic was ever successful, but by the 19th century, they had come to represent awkward historical conflict.

The two saints of the Bavarian town of Rottenbuch were put up for auction in 1803. The town’s citizens donated money to have them returned 174 years later, in 1977, but the catacomb.


But in 2013, when Paul Koudounaris rekindled interest in them with his new book, in which he attempted to photograph and detail each and every one of the catacomb saints, it was their turn to once again be in the spotlight. Although it’s unclear if he truly did, he undoubtedly succeeded in making them famous.

The Vatican officials would sign certificates designating them as martyrs once they were discovered in the ROᴍᴀɴ catacombs, and they would then pack the bones in boxes and send them north.

After that, usually nuns would dress and adorn the skeletons with gold and silver jewelry.

He further notes that over time, they evolved from being religious emblems to become icons of the city.

They were regarded as miraculous and played a significant role in strengthening community ties. This enhanced the reputation of the town. The remains cannot be valued in the present era, he continued.


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