To those who have never heard of the Sedlec Ossuary before the last post (like myself), I’m guessing you were astonished, and perhaps even a little freaked out. In the ossuary’s own way––like its coat of arms and chandeliers made out of human bones––it’s one of a kind.
Then again, the Sedlec Ossuary is not the only church decorated with a plethora of human remains.
Antonio Marcello Barberini was a Cardinal and member of the Capuchin friars in Rome in 1631. Dedicated to his faith’s traditions, he had the remains of the men in his organization to be displayed in Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins’ crypt. The idea was to create a solemn and sacred space where other friars could come to pray. Undoubtedly the idea behind it was of pure intentions, but it’s hard to get past how morbid it is.
Over 4,000 bones of Capuchin friars between 1528 and 1870 decorate six separate chapels in the crypt. Bones reach up from the floor and over the walls. The ceiling––decorated with bones both small and large––capture the Renaissance period and the ceremonious traditions of the church. The focal point of the crypt, which is still there to this day, are three skeletons dressed in the traditional brown friar garbs, strung up and carrying a cross.
In the Monastery of San Francisco in Peru 70,000 corpses were lost underground until 1943, but the bodies weren’t found intact. They were found in beautiful arrangements that lead those who discovered the bones to let them continue their eternal rest.
The monastery is regarded as a handsome display of Baroque style architecture. It was built during the Spanish controlled Viceroyalty of Peru in the mid 16th century. Somewhere in its construction, archeologists believe the catacombs beneath the convent connects to the cathedral.
What if the idea was to give the dead a direct line to the holiest spot in the area?
Catacombs being placed nearby or under churches wasn’t a new discovery when these tens of thousands of bones were discovered, however the way the bones are placed continue to puzzle visitors.
Throughout a tour of the monastery all one has to do is look down every now and again to catch sight of bones piled together sometimes in areas specific to the type of bone, and other times in more artistic ways. A whirlpool of bones twist one on top of the other with skulls outlining the pattern and femurs to provide a balance to the piece. Just how far down this whirlpool of bones goes is unclear.
The conclusion in the last post about the Sedlec Ossuary stated that although a place appears frightening doesn’t mean that it is. These churches (and there are more) accept death with arms held wide open; to the point of decorating their interiors with the dead. But remember that these skeletons are reminders of the human’s finite body and that the soul is the eternal part about us.
Finding a haunted church is not as easy to find when one is looking at a row of skulls in the face. The haunting often times comes in the empty spaces of a long forgotten church, in the vacant pews and confessionals now used as decorations for tourists to learn about a cathedral’s history.
The Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Clophill, Befordshire not only contains its own host of hauntings, but also its own dark history. The church was left empty for several years before the 1840s when it was renovated. During that time it was said the church was already 400 years old. 400 is plenty of time for long forgotten spirits to make a home for themselves in the coldest corners of the structure.
Rumors permeated the village about how the church’s land was ruined because the building wasn’t constructed in alignment with Jerusalem. Adding to that, the church was on land previously used by lepers. In 1963 the most terrorizing rumor yet struck the hearts of the citizens of Clophill: the church had been used by Satanists. Not only that, but the odious group attempted necromancy by digging up several graves. Soon after cows were found decapitated with no explanation. Even a young man admitted to killing a rooster with his friends and scattered its blood inside the church.
Rumors of black magic seemed to never stop spreading from house to house until the congregation dwindled in devastating numbers. Eventually the church was shut down altogether.
The setting is perfect for a paranormal horror film. It’s at least perfect enough for paranormal teams to come out and research the grounds themselves. Depending on who one asks, the church may have gotten off on the wrong foot when it was built in the wrong direction. Maybe it was cursed from the start. Like any old churches, during the day the Church Of St. Mary the Virgin is described as beautiful and perfectly pleasant. During the night is when rumors reach up from the unsettled, desecrated graves.
While the Church of St. Mary the Virgin’s history is brief and buried in rumors, Our Lady of the Conception of the Capuchins’ story is deep and out for all to see. The friars of this church embraced the potentially scary truths of death by using it as a motivation for prayer. Perhaps the church in Clophill tried too hard to establish a foundation of Christian tradition, or perhaps not hard enough.