A glass case protects the corpse of the "martyr Candidus"
at the Irsee Abbey, Bavaria. (source)
I was a Catholic up until a few years ago - the hardcore Latin Mass kind. For some reason, the really odd stuff was kept from me.
So now I'm discovering more and more that Catholicism is creepy. I mean, really gruesome and strange. Don't believe me? Drinking the blood and eating the body of Jesus not good enough for you? Revering the foreskin of Jesus or the bone fragments of dead people not bizarre enough for you?
Well then, how about the skeletal remains of fraudulent saints adorned with wildly valuable and gaudy jewels?
During the Beeldenstorm of the 16th century and continued iconoclasm of the 17th century, Catholic churches throughout Europe were systematically stripped of their religious symbols, iconography and relics. In response, the Vatican ordered that thousands of skeletons be exhumed from the catacombs beneath the city and "installed" in towns throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
Few, if any, of the corpses belonged to people of any religious significance though given their burial, some may have been early Christian martyrs. Each was nonetheless "painstakingly" dressed and decorated as one of the various Catholic saints. One church spent 75 gulden dressing their "saint".I'm certain the money for all those jewels could have gone to more useful ends. And isn't this sort of worship and reverence looked down upon - especially by Protestants at the time?
Though selling the relics would have been considered simony, enterprising church officials still managed to raise funds while countering the iconoclasm by charging for transportation, decoration, induction and blessing.Nice scheme, eh?
Now you can see pictures of these! They're part of a new book released this year, Heavenly Bodies.
Beauty from the crypt: Mystery of Europe's jeweled skeletons
The Catholic Church really seems to have a problem with the flesh and material or carnal things. Until those things die and only their bones remain, of course. Then they are relics to put into gruesome displays of death and to be revered.