Kutna Hora's 'Bone' church, Sedlec Ossuary
Henry, the abbot of the Cistercian monastery in Sedlec was sent to the Holy Land by King Otakar II of Bohemia in 1278. When he returned, he brought with him a small amount of earth he had removed from Golgotha and sprinkled it over the abbey cemetery. The word of this pious act soon spread and the cemetery in Sedlec became a desirable burial site throughout Central Europe. During the Black Death in the mid 14th century, and after the Hussite Wars in the early 15th century, many thousands of people were buried there and the cemetery had to be greatly enlarged.
Many say ghost photos, sightings and strange feelings often overwhelm the visitors to the Chapel. Chandelier made of bones and skulls and many other macabre decorative designs by František Rint.
the Gothic church was built in the center of the cemetery with a vaulted upper level and a lower chapel to be used as an ossuary for the mass graves unearthed during construction, or simply slated for abolition to make room for new burials. After 1511 the task of exhuming skeletons and stacking their bones in the chapel was, according to legend, given to a half-blind monk of the order.
Between 1703 and 1710 a new entrance was constructed to support the front wall, which was leaning outward, and the upper chapel was rebuilt. This work, in the Czech Baroque style, was designed by Jan Santini Aichel.
The Schwarzenberg coat-of-armsIn 1870, František Rint, a woodcarver, was employed by the Schwarzenberg family to put the bone heaps into order. The macabre results of his effort speaks for itself. Four enormous bell-shaped mounds occupy the corners of the chapel. An enormous chandelier of bones, which contains at least one of every bone in the human body, hangs from the center of the nave with garlands of skulls draping the vaults. Other works include piers and monstrances flanking the altar, a large Schwarzenberg coat-of-arms, and the signature of Master Rint, also executed in bone, on the wall near the entrance.
František Rint was a 19th century Czechoslovakian woodcarver and carpenter. He was employed by the House of Schwarzenberg to organize the human bones interred at the Sedlec Ossuary, a small Christian chapel in Sedlec, in 1870. 40.000 people were buried over the centuries on the small cemetery of Sedlec - 3 Km off the town-centre of Kutna Hora. The cemetery was part of the nearby Monastery St.Mary and had to be reduced in space in the year 1870. Thousands of Skeletons had to be undug and stored inside the church He used the bones at Sedlec Ossuary to create elaborate, macabre sculptures, including four chandeliers and a copy of the Schwarzenberg coat of arms.
Chandelier made of Bones and Skulls in Sedlec Ossuary Frantisek Rint bleached the bones first by some chemicals and finally arranged all of the bones and skulls in a funny way and with some sort of the typical strange kind of humor you may find all over Czechia in art, literature and even in the way they treated the Russian occupants for several decades... Each and every kind of bones was used for these decorations and today the bone-church is one of the major tourist-attactions in the region and maybe even the whole country.
The Sedlec Ossuary (Czech: kostnice Sedlec) is a small Roman Catholic chapel, located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints (Czech: Hrbitovní kostel Všech Svatých) in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. The ossuary contains approximately 40,000 human skeletons which have been artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings for the chapel.
In 1970 the centenary of Rint's contributions, Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer, was commissioned to document the ossuary. The result was a 10 minute long frantic-cut nightmare of skeletal images overdubbed with an actual tour-guide's neutral voice narration. This version was initially banned by the Czech Communist authorities for alleged subversion, and the soundtrack was replaced by a brief spoken introduction and a jazz arrangement by Zdenek Liška of the poem "Comment dessiner le portrait d'un oiseau" ("How to draw the portrait of a bird") by Jacques Prévert. Since the Velvet Revolution, the original tour guide soundtrack has been made available.
In the documentary Long Way Round, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman stop to see this church.
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