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Twelve Ossuaries Around the World

Atlas Obscura has compiled pictures and information about twelve different churches and shrines decorated with human bones. The picture above is from a wall at the Chapel of Bones at the Royal Church of St. Francis in Portugal. Due to a land shortage, in the Sixteenth Century, the resident monks decided to clear out nearby cemeteries and relocate the bones to the chapel:

However, rather than interring the bones behind closed doors, the monks, who were concerned about society's values at the time, thought it best to put them on display. They thought this would provide Evora, a town noted for its wealth in the early 1600s, with a helpful place to meditate on the transience of material things in the undeniable presence of death. This is made clear by the thought-provoking message above the chapel door: "Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos," or: "We bones that are here, for your bones we wait." The immediate view as you enter the Chapel gives you some idea of its scale and the sheer number of bodies that are interred here - some 5000 corpses. Among them, in a small white coffin by the altar, are the bones of the three Franciscan monks who founded the church in the 13th century. Also included are two desiccated corpses hanging by chains from the wall next to a cross. One is that of a child.

Link via io9 | Image: flickr user Tiago Ribeiro

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ah i've been there! got some great pictures of it too, the baby on the wall was an interesting touch with a spot light shining on it and everything!
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