Out Of The Archives:
Bones, Bones, And More Bones

It’s a strange sort of beauty that awaits at the bottom of the stairs of the gothic Bone Church of Sedlec. Bones are everywhere. Human bones. Forty-some-odd-thousand of them to be not too exact.

Originally the bones were arranged in neatly stacked piles by a half-blind monk in the early 16th century, while the chandeliers, columns, and decorative shields of the noble Schwarzenberg family were created later by a Czech wood-carver, Frantisek Rindt who began this run of creativity in 1870. For his creations, he used these bones and skulls of the dead warriors who ended up here after fighting in the Hussite Wars in the early part of the 15th century (1419 to around 1434).

In 1278, the abbot of Sedlec went to the Holy Land and brought back a jar full of earth which was spread over the cemetery. This immediately made the cemetery one of the holiest burial places in central Europe. By 1318 there were over 30,000 bodies buried here, many of these people had died due to the plague. The All Saint’s Kostinice was built in 1400 and then the ossuary was added in 1511. The church itself is built of stone, not bones, it is merely the decoration that takes its abstract human form.

Weird Note: When looking up the word Kostinice in my Cesko/Anglicky dictionary I noted the Czech word kost means bone and the Czech word kostel means church.

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