Sedlec Ossuary: The Story of the Church of Bones

By: Pudelek (Marcin Szala) via Wikimedia Commons. License at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en.

One of the craziest and the most mysterious chapels is the Gothic Sedlec Ossuary (kostnice) or the Church of Bones, located in in Sedlec, Kutna Hora. It is the most visited sight in Central Bohemian region according to the official website, and it stands on the remains of 40,000 people.

PARTNER CONTENT

The kostnice is an underground chapel of All Saints Cemetery, which used to be a part of the Cistercian abbey in Sedlec, built back in 1142 by Miroslav of Markvartic, according to the church’s website. It is comprised of two chapels – an upper chapel and an underground kostnice – situated on top of each other. The main part of kostnice’s interior is decorated using human bones as a reminder of mortality, ephemerality and the impermanence of being.

According to the legend, back in 1278, the local abbot Henry was sent by the Czech king to Jerusalem. When getting back home, he brought some soil from the holy land of Golgotha and spread it along the cemetery. The holy soil ended up attracting people from all over Europe, who wished to be buried in Sedlec.

After the next 100 years, continuous wars and epidemics led to the eventual expansion of the cemetery in the 14th century, when a series of epidemics led to the additional 30,000 burials.

By the year of 1500, the number of new bones has grown significantly – around the same time, the first “boney” elements of the interior appeared, according to Prague.ru.

The story goes that František Rint first disinfected, then bleached all bones in chlorinated lime and re-shaped them, placing them in the new order in which you can now find them.

When coming to Sedlec Ossuary, you are not likely to be scared. More than anything, the church is a grounding reminder that human life is no more than just a blink. It is a truly humbling realization – that we are all equal when it comes to death. Sedlec Ossuary is a real-life embodiment of the famous Latin phrase “Memento Mori” – Remember About Death.

Anna Zhadan

Anna Zhadan

Anna is a Media and Communications graduate with over three years of professional experience in TV journalism, as well as creative, technical, and journalistic writing.
Anna Zhadan
About Anna Zhadan 7 Articles
Anna is a Media and Communications graduate with over three years of professional experience in TV journalism, as well as creative, technical, and journalistic writing.