Sunday, July 23, 2006

La Cripta dei Cappuccini

This comes as a follow up to the recently mentioned Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo.
Valentina Tanni kindly pointed me to a similiar space in Rome, La Cripta dei Cappuccini. An amazing place where all the decorations on the walls are made with bones.

Here the Capuchins would come to pray and reflect each evening before retiring for the night. Over the years, until 1870, further alterations transformed this burial place into the work of art we see today. Its message is clear: death closes the gates of time, and opens those of eternity.

The Crypt of the Skulls
In the tympanum of the central niche an hour-glass stands out, with wings made of shoulder-blades. The side walls contain two Capuchins resting in curved niches. In the center of the vault are three striking decorative motifs in which circles of flowers predominate. In the corridor vault, a lantern hangs from an eight-pointed star.
The vault in the passageway is enhanced by a new element: a winged skull, its wings fashioned from shoulder-blades.

The Crypt of the three skeletons
The two small skeletons against the rear wall are holding in one hand a skull with wings made from shoulder-blades. Impressed into the center of the vault there is a delicate skeleton enclosed within an aureole, the symbol of life coming to birth. In its right hand it holds a scythe, symbol of death which cuts down everyone, like grass in a field, while its left hand holds the scales, symbolizing the good and evil deeds weighed by God when he judges the human soul.
The corridor vault is very rich and varied: four small five-pointed stars surround the other eight-pointed star from which the lamp hangs. On the wall opposite the door you see the striking design of the clock, its single face indicating the continuity of life, in time and in eternity.

Rinaldo Cordovani
Translated by Charles Sérignat

more here and here
mille grazie Valentina

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