Originally intended only for the dead friars, the catacombs soon became home to luminaries, priests and civilians, many preserved and wearing their finest clothes. Today, visitors can view the more than 8000 human remains lining the walls, or placed on shelves.
He was dressed in simple clothing: a brown robe and simple headpiece. His body was then transported to the catacombs and placed in a niche.
More than 400 years later he is still there.
Since 1599 more than 8000 bodies have been placed in the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo, Sicily. At first it was just the monks and friars of the Capuchin Monastery that were placed within the underground halls, passages and rooms of the catacombs, their cemetery having reached capacity, but after a time the catacombs were opened up to others as well
The bodies are on display along the walls, held in niches or placed on shelves, staring back at you from blank sockets. There are also many coffins within the catacombs, but much of the time a side has been removed, allowing the viewing of the body within, or allowing the body within a view of the living.
Not all of the bodies have fared as well as the others. Much of the time the skin is cracked and peeling, showing the bones beneath. Many of the remains look to have their faces locked in a never ending scream, a result of the decay process.
Straw can be seen poking through the parchment like skin of the neck, and poking out of the wrists of some of the bodies.
When the general populous started to use the catacombs, the reason was not so different. They could visit the preserved remains of their past family members, and still bring them into their prayer circles, holding the hands of the deceased to keep them in with prayer on special occasions.
At times, families would redress and rewash the bodies, wiping them down in vinegar or other substances, to help the preservation process. If no family was available, yet such treatment was wanted, a person could mention so in their Will, and leave a donation to the catacombs.
A Unique Time Capsule
Salafia used a special method of embalming which was so effective that Rosarios body looks to just be sleeping. The only indication of something out of the ordinary is that she has a slightly orange pallor.
The Capuchin Catacombs present a unique time capsule of nearly a half a millennia of fashion. Although monks, friars and priests are generally preserved in their religious wear, the general populace were interred in their finest clothes.
A fashion show through the ages if you will.
The catacombs are open to the public. Grills have been installed to help with the problem of some visitors posing with the corpses... or worse still, taking home souvenirs...