In catacombs below Italy’s Capuchin Monastery, thousands of mummies can be found posing in their best clothes, and no one really knows why.
By BEC CREW|ScienceAlert
More than four centuries ago, the Capuchin Monastery (or Catacombe dei Cappuccini) in Palermo, Sicily, ran out of room in its little garden cemetery, so the monks spent many years excavating catacombs below the building for extra storage. The first body to be placed down there was brother Silvestro of Gubbio, who was mummified in 1599, washed in vinegar and put back in his robes.
While for the first couple of centuries, these catacombs were reserved exclusively for deceased monks, eventually they became open to every dead person – of a certain status. The elite few who found a place in the subterranean tombs would often stipulate in their wills which outfits they’d be displayed in, and whether or not these clothes be updated on a regular basis. The upkeep of the catacombs was funded by relatives concerned about keeping the remains of their loved ones pristine.
Right up until a famous little girl mummy – who appears to blink on a regular basis – was placed in the catacombs during the 1920s, the four, long limestone corridors were gradually filled with several thousand clothed mummies, some posed, some hung up from hooks by their necks.