on March 31, 2002
This crypt comprises five vaulted rooms containing the bones and graves of over 4000 Capuchin Franciscans, assembled in a unique ornamental fashion in 1764. All decoration in the white-painted rooms is made only of human bones. From the light fixtures to the crucifixes to the angels--all ornamentation reminds the viewer that human life is ephemeral. The spirit is what prevails.
The final room of the quiet journey through the crypt contains these words from beyond: "What you are now we used to be; what we are now you will be." It is a dislocating yet moving sentiment to the tourist, who may have just toddled across the street from Rome's Hard Rock Cafe unknowingly entering this world of memento mori.
The crypt is open every day but Thursday, from 9 to noon and 3 to 6. There is no admission fee, but you are asked to donate what you can. No photography is allowed. A small gift store at the front sells post cards of each of the rooms. (I've reproduced two post cards below, photos by Cristafaro Guiseppe.)
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