Catacombs of the Capuchins

Palermo , Sicily , Italy

About Catacombs of the Capuchins

The Catacombs of the Capuchins (Catacombe dei Cappuccini) in Sicily house the preserved – often extremely well-preserved – corpses of thousands of people.

It is believed that people were initially buried in the Catacombs of the Capuchins because those interred there were found to remain mysteriously well-preserved. Over time, more and more people wished to be buried there and in later stages many were embalmed.

When describing the Catacombs of the Capuchins, it is difficult not to use the word “macabre”, especially when confronted with reality of seeing the array displayed mummified bodies which lie underneath the Capuchin Monastery. Many of them have distorted expressions on their faces and often they are dressed in their best clothes, creating a bizarre experience.

The oldest of the bodies at the Catacombs of the Capuchins is that of Silvestro da Gubbio, dating back to 1599. Like all of the people who were put to rest here in the early years of these catacombs, da Gubbio was a friar. Later, nobles and dignitaries would join the religious community in the Catacombs of the Capuchins. In fact, the corpses are divided according to categories such as vocation and even gender, for example there is a women’s corridor.

Meanwhile, the last person to be laid to rest in the Catacombs of the Capuchins was two-year-old Rosalia Lombardo. Having died of pneumonia in 1920, Rosalia now lies under a blanket, a bow tied in her hair and her face bearing a calm expression. Tragically, one could mistakenly assume that this little girl was sleeping. She is actually known in Sicily as “sleeping beauty”. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.

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