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Kremsmunster, Austria martyr from the Roman Catacombs (Katakombenheilige). From Kremsmunster Abbey, although these skeletons were not nearly as popular in Austria as they were in Bavaria and Switzerland.

Kremsmunster, Austria martyr from the Roman Catacombs (Katakombenheilige). From Kremsmunster Abbey, although these skeletons were not nearly as popular in Austria as they were in Bavaria and Switzerland.

7US-K1-0968-000321 Detail of St Gratian from the Basilika in Waldsassen, Germany, said to hold the largest extent collection of the skeletons of martyrs from the Roman catacombs, 2012 akg-images / Paul Koudounaris

7US-K1-0968-000321 Detail of St Gratian from the Basilika in Waldsassen, Germany, said to hold the largest extent collection of the skeletons of martyrs from the Roman catacombs, 2012 akg-images / Paul Koudounaris

Rott-am-Inn, Germany martyr from the Roman Catacombs (Katakombenheilige)  Someone from the church at Rott-am-Inn said to me that, if nothing else, one benefit of having skeletons in the church is that it makes the heavy metal kids think going to church is cool. When you think about it, that’s actually quite an accomplishment in its own right.

Rott-am-Inn, Germany martyr from the Roman Catacombs (Katakombenheilige) Someone from the church at Rott-am-Inn said to me that, if nothing else, one benefit of having skeletons in the church is that it makes the heavy metal kids think going to church is cool. When you think about it, that’s actually quite an accomplishment in its own right.

Weyarn, Germany, St. Valerius skull detail. The elaborately decorated relic of the presumed martyr from the Roman Catacombs arrived in the town's monastery church in the early 18th century.

Weyarn, Germany, St. Valerius skull detail. The elaborately decorated relic of the presumed martyr from the Roman Catacombs arrived in the town's monastery church in the early 18th century.

400-year-old remains are adorned with dozens of jewels, gems and a gold leaf crown. In the hollows of the eyes sit two gold brooches, set with a blue gem and pearls.

400-year-old remains are adorned with dozens of jewels, gems and a gold leaf crown. In the hollows of the eyes sit two gold brooches, set with a blue gem and pearls.

The arrival of St. Albertus’ remains from the Roman Catacombs in 1723 was a source of great excitement for the parishioners of the church of St. George in Burgrain, Germany, offering both a tangible connection to the early Christian martyrs and a glimpse of the heavenly treasures that awaited the faithful. (copyright Paul Koudounaris)

The Most Beautiful Dead: Photographs of Europe's Jeweled Skeletons

The arrival of St. Albertus’ remains from the Roman Catacombs in 1723 was a source of great excitement for the parishioners of the church of St. George in Burgrain, Germany, offering both a tangible connection to the early Christian martyrs and a glimpse of the heavenly treasures that awaited the faithful. (copyright Paul Koudounaris)

"The arrival of the remains of St Albertus from the Roman Catacombs in 1723 was a source of great excitement for the parishioners of the church of St George in Burgrain, Germany, offering both a tangible connection to the early Christian martyrs and a glimpse of the heavenly treasures that awaited the faithful." From Paul Koudounaris, Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs.

"The arrival of the remains of St Albertus from the Roman Catacombs in 1723 was a source of great excitement for the parishioners of the church of St George in Burgrain, Germany, offering both a tangible connection to the early Christian martyrs and a glimpse of the heavenly treasures that awaited the faithful." From Paul Koudounaris, Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs.

Skeletons discovered in the Roman Catacombs in the late 16th century, thought to be the remains of early Christian martyrs, were adorned with precious jewels and metals and used as holy relics. (Photo by Dr. Paul Koudounaris, from his book "Heavenly Bodies"/Morbid Anatomy)

Skeletons discovered in the Roman Catacombs in the late 16th century, thought to be the remains of early Christian martyrs, were adorned with precious jewels and metals and used as holy relics. (Photo by Dr. Paul Koudounaris, from his book "Heavenly Bodies"/Morbid Anatomy)

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