Sunday, December 2, 2018

Sedlec Ossuary

by Amanda Fisher

The Sedlec Ossuary is a chapel in a Catholic Church in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic that is called the
Cemetery Church of All Saints. This chapel is very unique in the fact that it is completely decorated in bones. The Ossuary became famous after a monk came from Jerusalem and sprinkled holy soil. As a result, many wealthy people from around Central Europe desired to be buried in this cemetery. After the black plague struck whipped out most of the population, demanding many proper burial sites became important. The bones of the deceased began to overload the graveyard and many people did not know what to do with them. When the church and chapel were built in the 1400s, many of the bones were moved to the chapel beneath the church. After a noble family purchased the
church in 1870, they hired a woodcarver, Frantisek Rint, to create a masterpiece with the extra bones. He then used the 40,000 bones in the chapel to create the masterpiece of the Sedlec Ossuary that still exists to this day and allows visitors to come view.The ossuarie is one of the most visited place in the Czech Republic.

The Church of Bones has many of the dectivorite pieces of art made from the human bones. 4 There is a chandelier located in the center of the church that contains at least one of every bone in the human body (Lawson and Rufus). There are also pyramids of bones located in each corner of the chapel, made of leg bones and skulls, and there is a Schwarzenberg coat of arms that is made of pelvises, finger bones, skulls, and arm bones.

Ossuaries are found all over Europe and are a common practice for both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communities. There are chapels and crypts in churches and monasteries that house the bones of thousands of individuals. Caves, catacombs and underground tunnels also make for ideal ossuaries. Many of the ossuaries display their bones in different ways and the Sedlec ossuary is one of the few that uses the bones are decorations. Many of them vary in their display methods. Most just use singular parts of the body and Sedlec is one of the few to use all the bones. The Beinhaus, Hallstatt, Austria  just displays the skulls as a way to honor the dead. Each skull has a was preserved by decorative paintings and inscriptions.

Works Cited:
Dowson, Thomas. “Ten Peculiar, Poignant & Popular Ossuaries Around Europe.” Archaeology Travel , 30 Aug. 2018.Web.

Dunford, Lisa, Brett Atkinson and Neil Wilson. 2 “Sedlec Ossuary.” Czech & Slovak Republics. Lonely Planet, 1 Apr. 2007. Web.

Lawson, Kristan and Anneli Rufus. “Sedlec.” Weird Europe: A Guide to Bizarre, Macabre, and Just
Plain Weird Sights. 2 Macmillan, 12 Jun. 1999. Web.

Page, Kacey M., "The Significance of Human Remains in Museum Collections: Implications for
Collections Management" (2011). History Theses. Paper 1

Praguetours. “Kutna Hora and Cesky Sternberk with Lenka - Explore the Czech Republic.” , 28 July 2018,

Rubin, Gail. “The Difference Between Ossuaries and Columbaria.” A Good Goodbye ~ Funeral Planning for Those Who Don't Plan to Die , 5 Aug. 2015,

“The Cemetery Church of All Saints with the Ossuary.” Kutna Hora Sedlec. 2012.

For further research:

A Walk in the Ossuary in Sedlec
Contains videos and photos involving the Sedlec Ossuary.

Ten Peculiar, Poignant & Popular Ossuaries Around Europe.
This article explains what an ossuarie is and the top ten most popular ones across europe.

The Difference Between Ossuaries and Columbaria.
This article explains the difference between Ossuaries and Columbrarias.

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