My experience at the Crypt was both eerie and curious. Eeriness because I was walking in the presence of the departed and curiousness of how someone thought of turning bones into art. The place has a very peaceful feel and it was strangely cool inside. It's amazing how many bones they have in there and more interesting is how they are displayed. Since photography isn't allowed, I scanned the postcard I got during our visit.
Bones at the Capuchin Crypt
I thought this is an interesting quote.
From the postcard:
In 1630, the Capuchin friars - so-called because of the "capuche" or hood attached to their religious habit - left the friary of St. Bonaventure near the Trevi Fountain and came to live in the present one, of which only the church cemetery remain. The remains of the deceased friars were transported from the old friary and laid to rest in this cemetery, underneath the present church. The bones were arranged along the walls, and the friars began to bury their own dead here, as well as the bodies of poor Romans... Here the Capuchins would come to pray and reflect each evening before retiring for the night. Over the years, until 1870, further alterations transformed this burial place into the work of art we see today. It's message is clear: death closes the gates of time, and opens those of eternity.Apparently, "when the monks arrived at the church in 1631, they brought 300 cartloads of deceased friars. Fr. Michael of Bergamo oversaw the arrangement of the bones in the burial crypt. The soil in the crypt was brought from Jerusalem, by order of Pope Urban VIII. As monks died during the lifetime of the crypt, the longest-buried monk was exhumed to make room for the newly-deceased who was buried without a coffin, and the newly-reclaimed bones were added to the decorative motifs. Bodies typically spent 30 years decomposing in the soil, before being exhumed." (Source)
I thought this was a great way to save sacred space.