Jewel-Encrusted Skeletons Discovered in Rome in 1578

In 1578, an incredible and somewhat baffling discovery was made in Rome. Beneath the city lies a network of labyrinth-like tombs that housed skeletons of early Christian martyrs wearing expensive clothes and decorated with precious jewels.

The skeletons, who were believed to be saints, were given the name “The Catacomb Saints” by those who first discovered them.

skeletons roman catacombs 1

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

They were eventually distributed across Europe to replace holy relics that were destroyed or stolen during the Protestant Reformation.

skeletons roman catacombs 2

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

skeletons roman catacombs 3

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

When the skeletons arrived at their destination, they were adorned with jewels, crowns, armor, and even wigs. They were later displayed in churches to remind visitors of the riches that await loyal Christians once they die.

skeletons roman catacombs 11

So Bad So Good

skeletons roman catacombs 6

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

skeletons roman catacombs 4

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

Fascinated by this discovery, art historian and (self-proclaimed) relic-hunter Paul Koudounaris traveled Europe in an attempt to find the status of each Saint.

skeletons roman catacombs 5

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

He found out that many of the skeletons had yet to be even displayed and are in fact, still waiting to be decorated and revealed to the public.

skeletons roman catacombs 7

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

skeletons roman catacombs 8

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

In his book, Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures & Spectacular Saints From the Catacombs, Koudounaris explores this intriguing story, its origins, and history of the Catacomb Saints. It is now one of the most elaborate and compelling documents regarding forgotten relics.

skeletons roman catacombs 9

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

skeletons roman catacombs 10

imgur / lulalilikabaloo

skeletons roman catacombs 12

Yellow Trace

SHARE this with your friends by clicking below!