Paul Koudounaris, who is also known by his nickname ‘Indiana Bones’ in known as an author, photographer and foremost expert on bone-decorated places and ossuarys. Earlier this year, Koudounaris published a book featuring high definition imagery of that 400-year-old ‘catacomb saints’ of Rome, a bunch of corpses that had been carefully garlanded with jewelry and finery prior to being offered as the remains of saints to congregations around Europe.
Throughout the Protestant Overhaul of the 16th Century, Catholic church buildings were routinely stripped of these relics, symbols and finery. So as to defy this, The Vatican had very old skeletons removed out of the Catacombs of Rome and generously adorned as a remnants of recognizable saints.
Although mostly forgotten until Koudounaris released his book, the catacomb saints continue to fascinate fascinated parties; they may still encourage religious zeal. In 1977, the town of Ruttenbach in Bavaria worked hard to raise enough funds to purchase back 2 of their original saints from private collectors, the ornamental skeletons had originally been auctioned off in 1803.
The book, that Koudounaris has slyly titled ‘Heavenly Bodies’ sees its author try to find and photograph each of these existing tomb saints.
In their glory days (a period that lasted over 200 years before conclusively coming to a close within the nineteenth century), the saints travelled all over the place, being transported at vast expense by the Church. They were venerated as things of care, or conduits for prayer.
Though the saints may seem unusual to contemporary eyes (one Telegraph reporter described these as ‘ghastly’), it’s crucial that you keep in mind that those who prayed at the feet of these gilded cadavers were a lot nearer to demise than their contemporary counterparts. While in the wake of The Black Death (which recurred repeatedly throughout Europe from the 14th to the 17th Centuries), art, literature and even worship had moved to embrace such ghoulish, macabre imagery.
The remains were usually decked out by nuns and often located in various authentic poses, before being secured in glass cabinets. Some of our meticulous decoration took as long as five years to finish, with jewellery and costumes being particularly impressive.
Koudounaris’ book, ‘Heavenly Bodies’ is available now.
Koudounaris’ book, ‘Heavenly Bodies’ is out there right away.