Rome: The Capuchin Crypt

On our trip to Rome, we visited one of the most fantastic places I have ever seen in my life: the Capuchin Crypt located beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini. Given my strong penchant towards appreciation of the macabre, I was fascinated as soon as I saw it online, and had to go check it out for myself. I was absolutely unprepared for what I found there – a level of beauty and awesomeness I has not expected.

Rom,_Santa_Maria_Immacolata_a_Via_Veneto,_Krypta_der_Kapuziner_1(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

The crypt is located right in the heart of the city near the American embassy, under a stately and normal looking church. you would absolutely never know it was there from the outside. To access it, you go through a museum that explains the history of the Cappuchins and their beliefs.

The Cappuchins are part of the Franciscan order. They emphasize poverty and charity to the poor. They also see this mortal life as a short time frame in light of the eternal soul. This makes a lot of sense if you keep it in mind when you view the crypts.

The crypts are a series of six very small underground rooms. In each room is a display of thousands of bones organized into the most beautiful and intricate patterns and motifs covering the walls, floors, and ceilings. You look at the rosettes and angel wings and find yourself trying to identify what each of the bones is. It is gorgeous, awe-inspiring, shocking, creepy and fantastic all at once.

They were intended to simultaneously glorify God and also remind us how short our time on earth is. Just to drive the point home, there is an inscription on the floor of one of the rooms that reads:

“What you are now, we used to be. What we are now, you will be”

The crypts are actually still sanctified working chapels, and they take the sanctity and preservation of those buried there very seriously. No photographs are allowed as you tour through, and they ask for whispered voice only.


(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

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