The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo

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  • Published : April 25, 2013
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The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo
Sicily’s Catacombs of Capuchin, located directly under the Capuchin Convent is the ultimate museum of the macabre. Indeed, the Catacombs of the Capuchins are ancient burial catacombs, located in Palermo, Sicily, southern Italy. The bodies of eight thousand souls line the corridors of the catacombs, as their disembodied shells are propped up against the walls, or resting in open caskets for the entire world to view this gruesome display that is open to the public. In essence, the history and development of the mummification processes used to preserve the bodies that date back to the 16th century are key topics in which I have acquired information about for this essay. To begin with, the history of the Palermo catacombs date back to 1599 ("King's Capuchins' Catacombs Corpses of Palermo", 2012) when the 16th century local priests decided to mummify the body of the holy monk, Brother Silvestro of Gubbio for all to see (Parente, 2012). They felt that this would be an admirable way to preserve his body, so they could not just pray to him, but still pray with him. The original intention was that only the dead friars were be preserved this way and housed in the Catacombs. However, in the following centuries it became a status symbol to be entombed into the Capuchin Catacombs ("The MOST HAUNTED places on Earth: Palermo Italy PARANORMAL EVIDENCE", 2012). Consequently, it was only natural for the locals to want their loved ones to be preserved and remembered in this same way, so they could grieve their loss whenever they chose to visit. In addition, Father Calogero Peri, known as the Keeper of the Catacombs, stated that when they first built this monastery, one of the problems that came up was what to do with the dead because the Capuchin Monastery outgrew its cemetery. With that said, the monks decided to excavate the crypts below the monastery to create more space. During this time, it was important for the living to face the...
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