tagged catacombs, creepy, italy and sicily
I used to think the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia was the the weirdest tourist attraction I’ve been to. The soap woman, the giant 5 ‘ colon, Siamese twins Chang and Eng’s conjoined liver, and everyone’s favorite, the drawers of items swallowed, inhaled or ingested. All kids stuff I tell you. May as well be spaghetti in a bowl as fake brains and grapes as eyeballs at Halloween. Move over Mutter, the new heir to the throne is the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo.
We had some time to kill in Palermo waiting for our ferry so we took a short ride out to check out the catacombs. The monks at this monastery started keeping their dead friars here in 1599 when they outgrew their cemetery, and kept the bodies on display for religious purposes. Turns out they were so talented at preserving bodies, that the local townspeople wanted in on the action. Being entombed there became quite a status symbol, and people would state in their wills the position they would like to be placed in and what clothes they wanted to be wearing. Some would even have their clothes changed each season. (Can’t be caught dead wearing white after Labor Day) As long as your family kept their contributions up, you were able to keep your spot. But as soon as the money stopped coming, it was up on the shelf shelf for you along with all the rest of the deadbeats. (Pun regretfully not intended) The 8000 or so bodies are in various states of decay, or non decay, as many are still with some hair and teeth, fully dressed and posed sitting for tea or just hanging out on the wall. The party stopped in the 1920’s so now its mostly an odd tourist attraction.