A crypt of bones in Rome

Jerrick is in Rome for a short break at the moment before his graduation to hang out with Cart and me. But since he’s already been in Rome before and has seen almost everything, we had to scan for a little bit for the places which we’ve never been to before. And that’s when I remembered the Cimitero Dei Cappuccini (Quick trivia : Cappucino the coffee drink is actually named because of the brown colour of a Cappucin monk’s robe)

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And so we took the metro to Piazza Barberini and immediately found ourselves in front of the Santa Maria della Concezione church. And like other churches here, it was tranquil and peaceful in here.

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Cute baby angels

But what sets this particular church different from the other’s that I’ve been to is that there is a crypt below it with bones from about 4000 friars as well as poor, religious folks who cannot afford proper burial. As there were so many bodies, there were not enough space and thus, were used as decorations depicting religious scenes instead.

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As the cemetery was part of the church, it is compulsory for visitors to be attired modestly (like how to dress in San Paolo) and then hand a small donation of  one euro at the front table before you are allowed inside.

The first feeling that I had while entering was how rather creepy the place is – the entire cemetery is ornately decorated. And in the hot summer heat, the air felt rather stuffy. You are surrounded with bone dividers, bone lamps, bone murals as well as several complete skeletons with robes … It felt so much like Diablo as you go down one level.

Since almost everything was covered with bones, it was relatively easy to reach and touch them. Not that I wanted to! Some would find it scary to be in here, but I found it tolerably creepy-cool. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be walking here by myself at night time!

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The cemetery is divided into 6 rooms – crypt of resurrection, mass chapel, crypt of skulls, crypt of pelves, crypt of leg and thigh bones, and crypt of the three skeletons. I can’t take pictures here, and I noticed one person who tried, got reprimanded and had his photo deleted on the spot. Nevertheless, you could find quite a number of pictures online.

Cart tells me that the intention of the cemetery was not to scare but instead be a form of devotion as well as a reminder to all friars that life is not eternal and one day too, our lives will end. Which is probably the most apparent in the last room, which had the message :

“What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be…”

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Not quite a touristy place, but it’s definitely something to be seen

9 thoughts on “A crypt of bones in Rome”

      1. I’m going to Prague in December, but I don’t know whether I’ll have enough time to go to Rome.. I’m definitely going to Austria and probably Germany, but dunno whether I should take a longer trip to Rome.

  1. Very interesting Marina! Will want to see it if I’m in Rome. Talking abt creepy stuff like this, there’s the Catacombe dei Capuccini in Palermo which I’ve visited 4 yrs ago. It had the humid smell once you enter it.. to me it’s fascinating and yet creepy at the same time. Of course, please go with someone and not on yr own ;( Reminds me of that talking skeleton in Tales of the Crypt! Eeeeeh

  2. I love this place! While it does have an element of creepiness in it, the bones are also a reminder of our humanity as Cart has pointed out. How does this compare to the catacombs?

    1. Hopefully the next time you visit Italy, you’d get the chance to visit this! 🙂

      I’ve never been to a catacomb before but I imagine the biggest difference is that in a catacomb, it will be underground while this crypt is above the ground with windows where you can see outside.

  3. this looks a bit eerie, but i think it’s one of those off-beat locations i would recommend to people to see too, if they’re in rome. love the pics and the write up! 😀

    1. Thanks! While monuments like the Colosseo and San Pietro are standard, there are always other interesting things to see 🙂

      (for me, my favourite is going on food trips … which is totally on the other spectrum of this particular blog post … hahaha)

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