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Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo
Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo

palermo-catacombsCapuchin catacombs of Palermo were the burial ones in Palermo, Sicily.

Capuchin monastery in Palermo grew out of its original cemetery in the 16th century and monks begun to dig up crypts below it. They mummified one of them, recently-dead brother Silvestro of Gubbio in the 1599, and placed him into the catacombs.

Usually bodies were dehydrated on the racks of ceramic pipes in the catacombs and from time to time washed with vinegar. A number of the mummified bodies were embalmed and others enclosed in sealed glass cabinets.

Initially the catacombs were planned only for the dead friars. Though, in the next centuries it became popular among rich people to entomb their dead relatives into the capuchin catacombs. Usually local celebrities would ask to be preserved in certain clothes, or even to have their clothes changed at regular intervals. They were clothed according to the contemporary fashion. The donations of the relatives of the deceased maintained the catacombs. The body remained in its proper place, as long as the contributions continued, but when the relatives did not send money any more, the body was put aside on a shelf till they continued to pay.
Catacombs include about 8000 mummies that line the walls with halls divided into categories: Men, Women, Virgins, Children, Priests, Monks, and Professionals. Several bodies are better preserved than others and some are set in poses: for instance, two children sitting together in a rocking chair.

Famous people buried in the catacombs include: Colonel Enea DiGuiliano, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, Salvatore Manzella, Lorenzo Marabitti, Filipo Pennino, Son of a king of Tunis who had converted to Catholicism, Allegedly Velasquez, Spanish painter, although his grave is officially unknown.

Capuchin catacombs of Palermo are open for visiting, but taking photographs inside is prohibited. There are iron grills installed to prevent tourists tampering or posing with the corpses.