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

Paul Koudounaris, who is also called by his nickname ‘Indiana Bones’ is an writer, photographer and top authority on bone-decorated places and ossuarys. Earlier this year, Koudounaris published a hardback featuring high definition images of the 400-year-old ‘catacomb saints’ of Rome, a group of corpses that were meticulously ornamented with ornaments and finery prior to being presented as the ruins of saints to congregations across Europe.

In the Protestant Reorganization of that 16th Century, Catholic church buildings were routinely stripped of these relics, cryptogram and finery. So as to counter this, The Vatican had ancient skeletons removed out of the Catacombs of Rome and generously bejeweled as a remains of recognized saints.

Even though regularly forgotten until Koudounaris published his book, the catacomb saints continue to fascinate concerned parties; they can still inspire religious zeal. In 1977, the township of Ruttenbach in Bavaria labored hard to gain enough money to buy back two of the original here from secretive collectors, the ornamental skeletons had originally been auctioned off in 1803.

The book, that Koudounaris has slyly titled ‘Heavenly Bodies’ sees its writer try to locate and photograph each of these present tomb saints.

In his prime (a period that lasted over 200 years before decisively coming to a close in the 19th century), the saints travelled all over the place, being transported at enormous expense by the Church. They were venerated as things of affection, or conduits for prayer.

Although the saints could appear unusual to contemporary eyes (one Telegraph reporter described them as ‘ghastly’), it is vital that you remember that those that prayed at the feet of the gilded cadavers were a great deal closer to demise than their modern counterparts. Within the wake of The Black Death (which recurred regularly throughout Europe from the 14th to the 17th Centuries), art, literature and also worship had come to embrace such ghoulish, macabre metaphors.

The remains were habitually adorned by nuns and often located in a choice of authentic poses, before being secured in glass cabinets. Some of our careful decoration took as long as five years to finish, with jewellery and costumes being exceptionally impressive.



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



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