Cimitero dei Cappuccini (The Crypt of the Capuchins) was among the first items on my ‘to see’ list in Rome. I’m neither the squeamish or the easily freaked out type, so I knew I just had to visit the place. When finally finding the location (I simply walked by it twice, in spite of all the signs, because it looked so normal on the outside), I thought for a moment that my expectations had been unrealistic. Only for a moment. My imagination couldn’t have created anything like what I got to see inside. Art, macabre and religious symbols intertwined in a manner impossible to describe in words. Never have I felt it stronger – death is the only survivor of time. Hundreds and hundreds of dead, buried and exhumed bodies – belonging to capuchin monks – have supplied the raw material for this unusual kind of religious art. In case you’re wondering who displayed their remains in such creative a manner, the answer is simple: the other monks, the living capuchins, the ones who used the various rooms of this crypt as a place of prayer and recollection…
I can’t take credit for the pictures above, they are no more than photos of some postcards from my collection. This was the only place I have visited where I simply forgot to reach for my phone or camera and ‘immortalize’ the moment. What would have been the point?… I don’t even know whether visitors were allowed to take photos or not; I don’t remember if there were any signs mentioning it. I only remember somebody was reprimanded for using their camera – that was the moment when I realised I hadn’t even thought of using mine. But I didn’t try to afterwards either.
Once I was outside again, under the warm spring sun, all I could think of was that such a beautiful day in Rome needed to be enjoyed… by all means, no minute could be wasted.