Kutna Hora Sedlec

The Sedlec Kostnice (beinhaus, bone church)

The story of the “Sedlec Ossuary (kostnice in Czech) is that in the 13th century “Jindřich”, the abbot of Sedlec Monastery returned from a visit to Palestine with a pocketful of soil and sprinkled it on the cemetery grounds surrounding the Chapel of All Saints. This direct association with the holy land led to the chapel graveyard becoming a sought after burial site among the aristocracy of Central Europe. At the time of the thirty years war in the 17th century the number of burials outgrew the space available. The older remains began to be exhumed and stored in the chapel and it’s estimated that the chapel now contains the bones of up to 40,000 people. The decorations and sculptures were created by a woodcarver named František Rint. In 1870, he was commissioned by the landowners of the time the Schwarzenberg family to decorate the chapel with the bones and create a “memento mori” reminder of the impermanence of human life and inescapable death. As well as the freaky bone chandelier, there are strings of skulls and bones hanging from the ceiling form side to side, a skull candelabra, and a display case showing crushed skulls with hatchet mace wounds inflicted by various deadly medieval weapons. Bone chalices stand in alcoves either side of the staircase. Mr. Rint’s signature is written out in finger bones. Urban myth has it that a monk went fucking insane and made crazy macabre sculptures from the bones, and there are stories to suggest that partially blind monks entrusted with the care of the chapel were the first to begin piling the bones into pyramids.

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