Beauty Beyond the Grave: The Story Behind Europe’s Bejeweled Skeletons

November 16, 2014
Advertisement

Most people know about Egypt’s pharaohs – great rulers buried in intricate tombs surrounded by their worldly possessions and other riches – but those late leaders weren’t the only ones to greet death in style.

Art historian Dr. Paul Koudounaris hunted down hidden jewel-encrusted skeletons, once proudly put on display in churches, for his book Heavenly Bodies, according to CNN.

Heavenly Bodies documents the journey of these morbid masterpieces, which were first unearthed from Roman catacombs as bare bones in 1578. Excavated by the Catholics, the discoverers assumed the remains were those of Christian martyrs.

Beauty Beyond the Grave: The Story Behind Europe's Bejeweled Skeletons| Around the Web

Advertisement

St. Benedictus originally received by the church of St Michael in Munich, Germany

To demonstrate the glory and glitz that awaited good Christians in the afterlife, the skeletons were reassembled and decked out in gold, jewels and other treasures. These glittering specimens were then sent to shrines across Europe to be admired by churchgoers. 

Beauty Beyond the Grave: The Story Behind Europe's Bejeweled Skeletons| Around the Web

St. Friedrich at the Benedictine abbey in Melk, Austria

The skeletons were celebrated and respected at first, but by the 19th century many began to question whether the saint status of these martyrs was legitimate. As a result, most of the relics were hidden away or destroyed. 

Beauty Beyond the Grave: The Story Behind Europe's Bejeweled Skeletons| Around the Web

St. Albertus’ remains from the Roman Catacombs

Koudounaris is one of the first people to photograph the strangely stunning skeletons that have been rediscovered over the years. And while he can’t speak to their authenticity as saints, he does believe that they are extraordinary works of art that deserve to be seen. 

“I wanted to pursue this project to provide a new context for them,” Koudounaris told CNN. “And to look at them not as failed devotional items, but instead as fine objects of art.”

[H/T:  People.com]

CDFuneralNews

CDFuneralNews

ConnectingDirectors.com is the leading online daily publication for funeral professionals with a reader base of over 45,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the profession. With ConnectingDirectors.com we have created a global community through an online platform allowing funeral professionals to Stay Current. Stay Informed and Stay Elite.
CDFuneralNews
Advertisement

You may be interested

IS FACEBOOK NOW PAY-TO-PLAY? | DISRUPTu! 038
DISRUPTu
37 views
DISRUPTu
37 views

IS FACEBOOK NOW PAY-TO-PLAY? | DISRUPTu! 038

CDFuneralNews - February 5, 2018

Are you ready to fight...!? Ready to FIGHT those recent Facebook Newsfeed changes?! You're in luck with this week's brand…

Homesteaders Recognizes Account Executives for Outstanding Achievement
Funeral Industry Press Releases
79 views
Funeral Industry Press Releases
79 views

Homesteaders Recognizes Account Executives for Outstanding Achievement

CDFuneralNews - February 5, 2018

West Des Moines, Iowa — Homesteaders Life Company, a national leader in pre-need funeral funding, held its national sales meeting and recognition…

We are Building Something Exciting for You… and We Need Your Help!
News
189 views
News
189 views

We are Building Something Exciting for You… and We Need Your Help!

Justin Crowe - January 31, 2018

We want to make your deathcare job easier. Tell us what you want in this 2-minute survey and get entered to win $100! The Connecting Directors and Disrupt Media teams are excited to be planning some new free funeral home marketing content and products for you in 2018 and we want to know what you need most! We want to know your biggest business wins of 2017, the tasks in your day that you hate, and what you feel is holding you back!

Comments