Published: February 3rd 2009February 3rd 2009
I would love to be so elegant a writer to be able to explain the meaning of such a place as the Ossuary of Sedlec, near Kutna Hora. Or have the ability to photograph these sculptures made of human bones, so that you could clearly see the meaning in them.
The little booklet states that "This work is not an end in itself; for decades, it has reminded visitors of the limits of human life and the fact of death. This fact is intended to lead to mutual harmonic coexistence and to respect for life and to make people aware of their responsibility to God."
From a modern point of view, besides being unbelievably beautiful, it is a recycling marvel!
A trip to the town of Kutna Hora had been on our to do list for many months. This chapel had been here since the 14th century. The Abbot of the Sedlec Monastery is said to have brought a handful of earth here from Golgatha in Jerusalem, making this a Holy Land. People from all over Bohemia were to be buried here. The black plague left 30,000 victims in 1318. Then the Hussite Wars added to the dead in need
in the ossuary
reminds us of limits of life
of a resting place. And what to do with all the skeletons placed in the ossuary. Which by the way is a storage facility for bones. Once the remains have been deminished to a skeleton, the bones are collected and placed in boxes or stacked to make room for newer graves.
In this case, the Schwarzenberg family hired Frantisek Rint, 1870 to put the bones in some sort of order, to furnish the church. He used every bone in the human body to form the huge chandelier that hangs in the center.
It was snowing and grey outside, yet, once in the lower chapel, surrounded by the odd decor, we indeed felt warm and cozy. This will be one of my favorite afternoons spent in Europe.
There are more photos below