Skip to comments.Incredible skeletal remains of 'Catholic saints' dug up, still dripping in gems and jewellery
Posted on 09/06/2013 7:15:37 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
A relic hunter dubbed 'Indiana Bones' has lifted the lid on a macabre collection of 400-year-old jewel-encrusted skeletons unearthed in churches across Europe.
Art historian Paul Koudounaris hunted down and photographed dozens of gruesome skeletons in some of the world's most secretive religious establishments.
Incredibly, some of the skeletons, said to be the remains of early Christian martyrs, were even found hidden away in lock-ups and containers.
They are now the subject of a new book, which sheds light on the forgotten ornamented relics for the first time.
Thousands of skeletons were dug up from Roman catacombs in the 16th century and installed in towns around Germany, Austria and Switzerland on the orders of the Vatican.
They were sent to Catholic churches and religious houses to replace the relics destroyed in the wake of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s.
Mistaken for the remains of early Christian martyrs, the morbid relics, known as the Catacomb Saints, became shrines reminding of the spiritual treasures of the afterlife.
They were also symbols of the Catholic Church's newly found strength in previously Protestant areas.
Each one was painstakingly decorated in thousands of pounds worth of gold, silver and gems by devoted followers before being displayed in church niches.
Some took up to five years to decorate.
They were renamed as saints, although none of them qualified for the title under the strict rules of the Catholic church which require saints to have been canonised.
But by the 19th century they had become morbid reminders of an embarrassing past and many were stripped of their honours and discarded.
Mr Koudounaris' new book, Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs, is the first time the skeletons have appeared in print.
(Excerpt) Read more at dailymail.co.uk ...
Thousands of skeletons were dug up from Roman catacombs in the 16th century and installed in towns around Germany, Austria and Switzerland on the orders of the Vatican. They were sent to Catholic churches and religious houses to replace the relics destroyed in the wake of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s. Mistaken for the remains of early Christian martyrs, the morbid relics, known as the Catacomb Saints, became shrines reminding of the spiritual treasures of the afterlife. They were also symbols of the Catholic Church's newly found strength in previously Protestant areas. Each one was painstakingly decorated in thousands of pounds worth of gold, silver and gems by devoted followers before being displayed in church niches. Some took up to five years to decorate. They were renamed as saints, although none of them qualified for the title under the strict rules of the Catholic church which require saints to have been canonised.
So how old does a grave have to be before it moves from grave robbing to archeology?
Cash it in and give the proceeds to the poor.
I see an e-bay auction coming up soon..
16TH century Bling Ping!
Looks like Michelle at the presidential ball...minus 250 pounds.
A great example of meekness, being humble, and taking a vow of poverty if I’ve ever seen one. Yes, this is exactly what Christ wants to see when He raises us up to be with Him. A person laden with jewels and gold. So laden that it’s gonna take a crane to lift his bones. Carry on , RCC. Carry on.
Don’t worry, we will!
The jewels look utterly beautiful. Great art from the Catholics - as usual.
No wonder he died, loaded down with all that pretty weight.
For where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also?
I wonder how much of that treasure was once a part of the Knights Templar haul?
Carry on , RCC. Carry on.
We most certainly, with the grace of God, WILL carry on...which we have done for over 2,000 years, despite the hate and persecution.
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
Matthew 26:6-13 KJV http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Matthew-Chapter-26/
Catholic art-lover, Camille Paglia, is going to faint when she sees these artifacts. Btw, you can see this kind of stuff any day in Italy or Sicily. Very common except for the high level of artistry in the jewelry.
Depends on the digger, you and I never.
This is as far from the teachings of Christ as Today's ‘Wealth and Prosperity” ministries seen in “Protestant” televangelists today....
Their perversions of are reflections of today's TV megachurchs, with jewels instead of multiple mansions, luxury cars and corporate jets....
Well done! The Catholic-bashing never ends. 2000 years speaks for itself.
Some are actually on display in tiny churches. The churches themselves are very hard to find. The displays inside the church are in alcoves. (They were not labelled in any way, so, I am assuming they were these “saints.”)
Really weird experience to spot one, especially your first.
you. just. don’t. get. it. do. you.
That’s something I’ve wondered for a number of years.
It seems that you are comparing the huge Catholic denomination to the worst of some individual televangelist’s church, but this seems worse than anything that I have have heard of from any televangelist, and this was on a vast and centuries old scale.
This is the Roman Catholic church itself, part of the Catholic faith, not some short lived individual group or cult.
This reminds me of how the Egyptians would prepare the body for an afterlife.
Why were these bodies decorated like this? What was the thought process?
ANd you. Are you actually trying to compare this skeleton’s take it with you attire with Christ? Do you honestly think that Christ’s burial was in any way, shape or form indicative of this disgraceful show of man’s lust for riches? Perhaps you need to stand back and re-read the Scripture you quoted and TRY to see the irony of your “defense”.
Oh, I’m sorry. You posted this to make us Catholics see the errors of our ways and for once and for all to declare Jesus Christ as our Personal Lord and Savior. Is that better?
These people were buried in the Catacombs, meaning they were martyred christains....
meaning they are saints, not requiring Church canonization...
and they were adorned by nuns who were praising Christ by these acts, which is what churches do when they build long-lasting cathedrals of great expense....
like the Sistine chapel that shocks everyone with it’s beauty for Christ.
But we take your slaps for Christ with love. The gold “wasted” on these martyrs is the same as the perfume wasted on Jesus’ feet....wasted on Christ, and for that, these martyrs would have appreciated the nuns’ intentions....
For God’s greater glory, the Church provided these saints relics to plundered and raped Catholic Churches to spring hope eternal in JC.
I can see a tear in the tin foil above your left ear. That might explain it.
My mistake. I’m sure you had the best of intentions. So, thanks! This is a really cool post. What an awesome church I belong to!
Oooh. Using only the lower case and periods.separating.the.words. Scary children!
The person who doesn’t get it is you. When people sacrifice time and treasure for the glory of God, it is a good thing. In this case, people were trying to encourage their brothers and sisters in Christ to strive for Heaven.
Had you lived in that time, these types of displays, like those of the great cathedrals, would have made a tremendous spiritual impact. Since most people couldn’t read, these types of artist works were necessary to communicate the Gospel, and the glory of God and His promises.
It is easy for us to look back and say it was a waste of money, etc. However, as the Lord says, “...Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.”
And so, why trouble yourself, when people were trying to do good for the Glory of God?
not nearly as scary as your future, miss marmelstein.
I think its grave robbing so long as there is anyone left alive who can remember when there was anyone left alive who could remember when there was someone left alive who knew the name of the deceased.
...or something like that.
Unless its an old Indian burial ground. Messing with those seems to cause poltergeist infestation no matter how old the graves are.
Yes, that's why Catholics donated their valuables in homage to these notable persons.
I hope my future contains some of those jewels. Who says you can’t take it with you?!
You rock, smvoice! Tell ‘em!!
Very, very creepy to me.
“So how old does a grave have to be before it moves from grave robbing to archeology?”
I’m with you on this one. I don’t know who’s grave this is but let the dead stay in the grave till Jesus comes.
If you equate myself and smvoice with those kind of Protestants, then you are way off base.
I believe I can say both of us condemn Word of Faith and their nonsense too.
Am I right, smvoice?
Didn’t you read the article, this was international and has been going on for centuries in the Roman Catholic church at the orders of headquarters.
This was official business, a part of the faith, a part of how that denomination practices the Christian religion.
Look at this thread, many Catholics are in high praise of this form of worship in their church, it is seen by Catholics here as it would have been seen centuries ago when it was started.
I was thinking the exact same thing.
Well, when an organization “progresses” from selling indulgences to molesting children... there’s probably not going to be much moderation in the volume of criticism over the years, only the topic.
It’s very true: I find these skeletons works of art. The Catholic Church’s contributions to Western art can never be underestimated. Now, I can see how some people who don’t travel widely from the US might be shocked at these photos. But you can see these kind of artifacts from Mexico clear to Italy (and probably beyond). They are part of Western culture and as a conservative who hopes (against all reality) that that culture continues, I admire their high artistry.
Yikes, you guys can justify most anything.
I guess the fact that I am a saint since I am born again and considered righteous by God thru Christ’s death and resurrection is not good enough. It certainly is for me. I’ve no need of any of that kind of stuff either in life or death and neither do any of the rest of us, martyred or not.
Any religion can carry things to an extreme as in this case or the Word of Faith/Prosperity stuff. Neither are the ideal. And Mary was anointing Christ’s feet, which is a whole different kettle of fish (no pun intended). No man other than Jesus is to be treated with such reverence. There are ways to show love and reverence for our fellow believers (in life and in death) and not go to such extremes of ostentatiousness.