yq in rome

Italy day 10: Seeing the Capuchin crypt [YQrtw Day 36 May 13]

Location: Rome, Italy

I had quite enough of museums and art galleries after my three full museum days in Florence so I decided to focus only on one museum in Rome–the Vatican Museum.

I read somewhere online that if you want to skip the queue at the Vatican Museum, it’s best to go after lunch time when the tour groups are out to eat.

I decided to follow that advice so my morning was pretty free.

While I was on the underground heading to nowhere in Rome,  I spotted a rather interesting attraction on my mobile travel guide app.

The Capuchin Crypt has skeletons and skulls used as decoration and the whole thing fascinated me.

Luckily, my train was just nearby the train station so got off  I made the stop at Bernini.

Looking at the facade of the church, you can’t tell that inside it hides a hauntingly beautiful corridor of bones.

There was an entrance fee of 7 euro to the museum and the crypt.

The museum is small but had interesting information on the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. Actually, I was most excited to learn that the Capuchin friars live like a hermit (and also hel people along the way) since The Hermit is one of the cards in tarot.

The museum section is small and at the end is the crypt with its decorative skeletons and skulls.

Unlike the Paris catacombs, the crypt was small. It’s more like a 20-meter long corridor where one side is a wall and the other side with small rooms that do not have a wall.

Even though the photos of the crypt make it seem like a huge place, the rooms are rather small, each about 2 meters wide and 3 meters long.

in the small “rooms”, the bones are decorated in themes. The themes are:

  1. Crypt of the Three Skeletons
  2. Crypt of the Leg Bones and Thigh Bones
  3. Crypt of the Pelves
  4. Crypt of the Skulls
  5. Mass Chapel (no bones here)
  6. Crypt of the Resurrection.

Almost every empty space on the ceiling was decorated with bones. One had a skull framed by pelvis bones on its two sides, making it look like a rather scary butterfly.

Walking pass bones and skeletons

At first, it was a little scary walking into the corridor with skulls grinning at me. Then I asked myself, “What is it that is scary?”

I concluded that these were just brown bones of humans so there is nothing to be afraid of. It was then that I started to admire the arrangements as art.

Aptly, in the first room, there was a sign in multiple languages. I copied the English version here:

WHAT YOU ARE NOW WE USED TO BE; WHAT WE ARE NOW YOU WILL BE

Yes, one day we will become bones, or ashes if you are cremated. Until then, we’ll need to live life to as best as we can.

Halfway during the walk, I realized that I was face to face with another Tarot card: Death. Later in the day I would meet “Judgement” in the form of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.

More about Liau Yun Qing

Yun Qing is a writer, improviser and curious person. She loves finding little adventures in life. In 2013, she went on a 130-day round-the-world trip. She wrote a book to help those who also want to go on a career break.

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