Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dead but not buried in Catacombe Dei Cappuccini

One of the most bizarre things I have ever seen is the Catacombe Dei Cappuccini or Catacombs of the Capuchins. What could be better than spending time with mummified cadavers under the Capuchin Monastery?

We made our way down to the catacombs' dank corridors among the mummified bodies. Many of the bodies were standing up in various poses. Some faces are contorted as if posing for Edvard Munch's, "The Scream." Although many corpses are still remarkably preserved, time and gravity have been cruel to others. Some are downright creepy, with body parts such as jaws or hands missing.

Some 350 years ago, it was discovered that the catacombs contained a mysterious preservative that helped mummify the dead. As a result many Sicilians — 8,000 of them — demanded to be buried here. The oldest corpses date back to the sixteenth century. The last corpse to be buried here is that of a two-year-old who died in 1920. She has been dubbed "Sleeping Beauty" by the locals.

There were areas for children and even an area for virgins. Much of the clothing was still intact. Other areas had the corpses lying in repose. One funny sight was a woman turned in such a way that she looked as if she was talking to her husband.

Our busy day ended in a local restaurant in our neighbourhood full of locals. What better way to end the day with Sicilian pizza with a kamut crust and a bottle of red?

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