Church of the Dead
It fascinates and intimidates at the same time. An experience you won't forget
What it is and where it is
It is in one of the oldest streets, now dedicated to the urbanite Filippo Ugolini, that this church is located, which cannot really go unnoticed, whether because of its portal of local pink stone and the intertwining of decorations typical of the Gothic style, or because of what it hides inside. In a room carved out behind the high altar rests 18 people, men and women whose bodies have come down to us almost intact by a strange twist of fate.
Why it is special
Given the name and contents, perhaps "special" is not the first adjective that comes to mind, but don't be fooled: this place is first and foremost a consecrated church, and a repository of artistic treasures like a fragment of an ancient fresco. The very room where the mummies are is a place respectful of those protected by the shrines. The phenomenon of mummification is of scientific interest, but also of medical and anthropological interest since these people tell us how people once lived, how they were born or died, what diseases they suffered from, the living conditions in the different social strata... And all with their eternal silence.
Not to be missed
The guide at the end of his story will almost certainly try to offer you a very special object found in the mummy room...will you resist the temptation?
A bit of history
The church dates back to 1380 and was originally a private oratory attached to the house of the couple who had it built: Cecco di Cola and Antonia di Filippuccio da Durante. That is why it was initially called the Cola Chapel. In 1804, with the Edict of Saint Cloud, Napoleon ordered the dead to be moved to cemeteries outside the city walls as a matter of hygiene. The church cemetery, entrusted to the Confraternity of Good Death, was also subject to exhumation for relocation. It was precisely the brethren who made the extraordinary as well as mysterious discovery and were responsible for carving out a space to house the mummified bodies, a place where they still rest today.
It is said that it is not easy to peer into the hearts of men, but in our case this saying is not exactly true. In fact, the mold that preserved the bodies was not limited to their outward appearance; the muscles, tendons and internal organs were also dehydrated. Don't believe it? Wait until you get to the end of the guide's explanation and you will be shown something you don't see every day.