samedi 25 juin 2011

Bones with Bling The amazing jewelled skeletons of Europe

"A pair of American tourists pause in surprise in the centre of the nave of the Church of Sts Peter and Paul in the small, rural Bavarian town of Rott-am-Inn. Their attention is fixed on a pair of beautifully jewelled, articulated skeletons in niches on the walls of the church, where one might normally expect to find side altars. Reposing inside glass cases, the bones are covered in a finely filigreed costume of golden leaves and precious stones, and jewels mark their mouths and eyes.

“Who are they?” one of the visitors inquires.

“I’m not sure about one of them,” their local guide explains, “but the other is Constantine the Great.”

“Constantine? The Roman Emperor?” asks the visitor, now visibly puzzled. “It seems… well, very unlikely that his skele ton would be in this church.”

“Well, this is what I’ve been told,” the guide sheepishly replies.

The identification of the skeleton in Rott-am-Inn as the Emperor Constant ine is dubious, but he is only one of several such skeletons, usually found in small parochial churches in Germany and Switzerland, fully articulated and covered over with gold, silver, and gems. They represent a curious and largely forgotten piece of Catholic history from a time when clairvoyant priests would use their powers to ascertain the remains of saints and martyrs. "

Voici un lien vers l'excellent article de Paul Koudounaris sur les squelettes enjolives de l'Europe chretienne.

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