Paul Koudounaris, whoâs also known by his nickname âIndiana Bonesâ is an writer, photographer and principal specialist on bone-decorated sites and ossuarys. Earlier in 2013, Koudounaris published a hardback that includes hd images of the 400-year-old âcatacomb saintsâ of Rome, a bunch of corpses that had been carefully adorned with charms and finery prior to being presented as remnants of saints to congregations around Europe.
Through the Protestant Reorganization of the 16th Century, Catholic churches were routinely stripped of their relics, symbols and finery. So they can counter this, The Vatican had very old skeletons removed out of the Catacombs of Rome and generously decorated as the remnants of recognizable saints.
Even though regularly forgotten until Koudounaris released his book, the catacomb saints still fascinate concerned parties; they may still encourage religious zeal. In 1977, the township of Ruttenbach in Bavaria worked hard to gain enough money to buy back two of their primary saints from undisclosed collectors, the decorative skeletons had originally been auctioned off in 1803.
The book, which Koudounaris has surreptitiously titled âHeavenly Bodiesâ sees its author attempt to find and photograph each of these surviving crypt saints.
In his prime (a period that lasted over 200 years before decisively coming to a close in the nineteenth century), the saints travelled far and wide, being transported at great expense by the Church. They were venerated as things of devotion, or conduits for prayer.
However the saints may seem strange to contemporary eyes (one Telegraph reporter described these as âghastlyâ), it is important to remember that those who prayed at the feet of those gilded cadavers were a great deal closer to demise than their contemporary counterparts. Within the wake of The Black Death (which recurred repeatedly right through Europe from the 14th to the 17th Centuries), art, literature and worship had come to accept such ghoulish, macabre images.
The remains were regularly garlanded by nuns and often placed in a choice of realistic poses, before being secured in glass cabinets. Some of the scrupulous decoration took as long as 5 years to finish, with jewellery and costumes being exceptionally grand.
Koudounarisâ book, âHeavenly Bodiesâ is out there now.
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