Sunday, July 18, 2010

Capuchin Crypt

Near the Cabbage Market is the 17th century Capuchin Monastery. It was built from 1648 – 1651. Baroque sculptures decorate the front side that date back to 1765. In the monastery’s basement is the crypt. People from all levels of society were buried in the crypt. Apparently the composition of the ground and the dry air under the church made it easy to mummify dead bodies. This was a cheap way to dispose of bodies. Given their vows of poverty, the monks would recycle the same coffin, over and over, for all funerals. After a church service the monks would carry the coffin down to the crypt. The coffin had a false bottom so the body came out and was left on the ground to dry out. This went on until 1787 when the emperor, Joseph II, prohibited burying the dead inside of town limits. There are several bodies in on display in the crypt. In one room, the bodies are laid on display. In Czech, there is a sign that translates to “As you are now, we once were, as we are now, you shall become.”

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