Paul Koudounaris Heavenly Bodies
In 1578 the remains of thousands of supposedly Christian Martyrs were discovered in catacombs on the Via Salaria in Rome. The church, many of whose relics were recently destroyed by Reformers, celebrated this scoop by sending individual skeletons to churches in Switzerland, Bavaria and Austria.
These skeletons were decorated and dressed in the finest jewels and fabrics (often by nuns), given generic saint names and a CV of miracles. Over the centuries they became a vulgar embarrassment to the church and many were destroyed or hidden from public view. Dr Koudounaris was given access to some of the remaining skeletons for his book Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs.
© Paul Koudounaris
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