They died 400 years ago, and were never dressed this fancy in life. They remain dressed and bejeweled, hidden away in catacombs and storage lockers. These skeletons were revered as martyrs of the Catholic Church in their time. Some were even considered saints, even though they weren't canonized.
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.
That's when the bones were dressed in finery, decorated with jewels, and put on display for local church members to venerate. In the 19th century, many of them were discarded or hidden away in storage. Art historian Paul Koudounaris, author of the book Heavenly Bodies, found and photographed dozens of jeweled human relics. Read about them at the Mail Online. Link
See a lot more at Koudounaris' website, Empire de la Mort. Link
(Image credit: Paul Koudounaris via Facebook)