Monday, 15 December 2014

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

Paul Koudounaris, who’s also identified by his nickname ‘Indiana Bones’ is an author, photographer and leading expert on bone-decorated sites and ossuarys. Earlier this year, Koudounaris released a hardback that includes hd images of that 400-year-old ‘catacomb saints’ of Rome, a group of corpses that had been thoroughly decorated with jewels and finery ahead of being presented as the ruins of here to congregations around Europe.

Throughout the Protestant Reorganization of that 16th Century, Catholic church buildings were routinely stripped of these relics, cryptogram and finery. So they can counter this, The Vatican had very old skeletons removed from the Catacombs of Rome and generously adorned as the remnants of acknowledged saints.

Although regularly forgotten until Koudounaris released his book, the catacomb saints still fascinate interested parties; they may also still inspire religious zeal. In 1977, the township of Ruttenbach in Bavaria labored hard to raise sufficient money to buy back two of their original saints from private collectors, the decorative skeletons had initially been auctioned off in 1803.

The book, that Koudounaris has cautiously titled ‘Heavenly Bodies’ sees its writer try to find and photograph each of the present crypt saints.

In his heyday (a period that lasted over 200 years before conclusively coming to a close in the nineteenth century), the saints traversed far and wide, being transported at great expense by the Church. They were venerated as objects of care, or conduits for prayer.

However the saints may seem strange to modern eyes (one Telegraph reporter described these as ‘ghastly’), it’s crucial that you understand that those that prayed at the feet of the gilded cadavers were a great deal nearer to death than their modern counterparts. In the wake of The Black Death (which recurred repeatedly all through Europe from the 14th to the 17th Centuries), art, literature and even worship had come to embrace such ghoulish, macabre imagery.

The remnants were regularly decorated by nuns and often located in a range of natural poses, before being protected in glass cabinets. Some of the careful decoration took as long as five years to finish, with jewellery and costumes being acutely grand.

Koudounaris’ book, ‘Heavenly Bodies’ is on the market now.

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