Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Book about Jewel Encrusted Skeleton ‘Saints’ released to vast enjoyment

Paul Koudounaris, who is also known by his nickname ‘Indiana Bones’ in known as an writer, photographer and foremost authority on bone-decorated places and ossuarys. Earlier this year, Koudounaris released a book featuring hd images of the 400-year-old ‘catacomb saints’ of Rome, a group of corpses that was carefully decked with jewels and finery prior to being presented as remains of here to congregations across Europe.

Throughout the Protestant Reformation of that 16th Century, Catholic churches were routinely stripped of their relics, cryptogram and finery. In order to counter this, The Vatican had antique skeletons removed out of the Catacombs of Rome and copiously bejeweled as the remnants of recognized saints.

Although regularly forgotten until Koudounaris published his book, the catacomb saints continue to fascinate concerned parties; they can also still inspire religious zeal. In 1977, the settlement of Ruttenbach in Bavaria labored hard to gain sufficient funds to buy back two of their original saints from private collectors, the ornamental skeletons had initially been auctioned off in 1803.

The book, which Koudounaris has cautiously titled ‘Heavenly Bodies’ sees its author attempt to find and photograph each of the existing tomb saints.

In his glory days (a era that lasted over 200 years before finally coming to a close in the 19th century), the saints travelled everywhere, being transported at enormous expense by the Church. They were respected as things of affection, or conduits for prayer.

Though the saints could appear odd to modern eyes (one Telegraph reporter described them as ‘ghastly’), it is imperative that you remember that people who prayed at the feet of these gilded cadavers were a great deal nearer to demise than their contemporary counterparts. Within the wake of The Black Death (which recurred frequently right through Europe from the 14th to the 17th Centuries), art, literature and worship had come to accept such ghoulish, macabre metaphors.

The remnants were usually decorated by nuns and sometimes placed in different realistic poses, before being protected in glass cabinets. Some of the thorough decoration took as long as five years to complete, with jewelry and costumes being exceptionally grand.

Koudounaris’ book, ‘Heavenly Bodies’ is out there now.

you can obtain the original piece here

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