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Tales from the Crypts

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 17 - 2007

We awoke to the sound of church bells this gorgeous sunny Sunday morning. It seemed a foreshadowing as we would be spending our day in some of Rome’s famous crypts.

A few steps from the bustling Piazza Barberini sets Santa Maria Della Concezione dei Cappuccini (Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Capuchins). This is no ordinary church it could be the set of a Stephen King movie. Pass through an iron gate and witness the remains of 4000 Capuchin friars whose bones bizarrely decorate six themed vaults. Each vault was sectioned off with a worn, velvet rope. Each was adorned with a vase of fresh flowers. Each dimly lit cavern was viewed from the narrow corridor that crawled with vertebrae. Look above and you’ll see dangling lanterns made from finger bones. As one of my daughters said, this is something from a Scooby Doo cartoon. Rhut-rho is right!

As the way led on to mesmerizing display of bony spirals, archways and ghoulish chandeliers, we moved to the next crypt with its leering, inclining, brown-robbed skeletons, framed by hundreds of stacked skulls. Either I had watched to many horror movies but it seemed like the skeletons were leaning forward, making eye contact with us with their sallow, empty sockets and warning: “This is what you’ll look like soomeday.”

Tibia led on to fibula. Jawbones gaped open like sharks. Bone angels with scapula wings flew overhead as we crept past the Crypt of the Pelvises to the Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones. And, if all this wasn’t freaky enough, encased in a perfect womb-like oval was a child-sized skeleton. Its right hand held the scythe of death while its left hand held the scales of justice. On another wall an ancient clock face, its single finger-bone hour hand marking mortality.

To take this tour use Dark Rome Tours, I cannot recommend them highly enough.

Ciao, for now!

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