Skeletons, skulls and bones in the city centre of Rome:
We came to Piazza Barberini in search of Tony’s razor part, but what we found was something more macabre! At the foot of Via Veneto, at no. 27, is the the church of Santa Maria della Concezione, better known as the Capuchin Church. Beneath this plain looking church, there is an extraordinary Crypt where the bones and skulls of generations of Capuchin friars are used to elaborately decorate the walls, archways and niches of the Crypt.
About the Crypt
The Crypt is made up of six vaults comprising five crypts and a Mass Chapel. Each of the crypts is decorated with bones and skulls and depicts a different religious scene. Only the Mass Chapel is free of bones as it’s used for the celebration of mass.
- Crypt of the Resurrection
- Crypt of the Skulls
- Crypt of the Pelvises
- Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones
- Crypt of the Three Skeletons
- Mass Chapel
The Capuchin friars were so called because of the “capuche” or hood attached to their religious habit. The friars came to live in Santa Maria della Concezione in 1631 when they left the friary of St. Bonaventura dei Lucchesi (near Trevi Fountain). When the friars moved location, the remains of the deceased friars were moved from the old friary and laid to rest under their new church. The friars then began to bury their own dead here and subsequently the bodies of poor Romans were buried here as well. The Chapel was where the friars would pray each evening before retiring for the night.
The burial place was altered and tranformed into its current funeareal art form over a period of 100 years.
- Entry is free but small donations are appreciated.
- Photography is not allowed but you can see pictures of these at www.cappucciniviaveneto.it
Fontana delle Api
While you’re in the vicinity of Piazza Barberini, have a drink at the Fontana delle Api. It’s okay to drink from here as the Latin inscription tells us that the water is for the use of the public and their animals. This fountain is one of Bernini’s more modest works and was created as a homage to Pope Urban VIII Barberini. “Api” are bees and are the Barberini family symbol. At the fountain are little crab-like bees which appear to be sipping water from the basin.