Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Capuchin Crypt

The Crypt at the Capuchin Monastery, Brno, Czech Rep.
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The Capuchin crypt was built by the Brno builder Ondrej Erna between 1648 and 1651. The crypt contains quite a few mummified bodies of monks and ex-Brno residents. Once I stepped into the crypt, I could defitenily smell death.

I heard that mummification was never the intention. Apparently it was the composition of the subsoil and the dry air in the vault that made the mummified corpses. It was just a cheap way to dispose of the dead bodies. Following their vows of poverty, the monks re-used a single coffin over and over again. After the funeral, the monks would carry the coffin with the dead body in it, and they would slide away the bottom of coffin and let the corpse fall to the ground to let it naturally mummify over the years.

The brochure we read said that at one point there were over 100 mummies in the crypt. Now, there are only 24 in the furthest vault. There are other bodies (those of dignitaries) closer to the entrance. Later I read somewhere that there was also a corpse of a woman with a label saying that she had been accidentally buried alive (Okay, the label was in Czech obviously and we didn't know till later). How unfortunate that is. She was stuck in the crypt alive and still exists in the crypt as a mummy... I would have to guess that she wants to get out of there at some point :-(

Primarily the crypt was used as a resting place of the deceased Capuchin monks over a period of 300 years. This practice was banned by hygiene laws towards the end of the 18th century.

The outside air seemed fresher after coming out of the crypt.

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