In five small chapels served by a narrow corridor, art and death unite in ornamentation designed to remind us of our finitude. The skulls and crossbones of 4,000 Capuchin monks who died between the 16th and 19th centuries form complex, interlacing arabesque rosettes on the walls.
Funereal guards, their skeletons dressed in monastic habit and frozen in positions of prayer, watch over the crypt, encouraging visitors to consider it as a place of meditation, not just an attraction. Two centuries of Capuchin monks met here each evening to pray and honour the memory of their dead.
Their presence is still palpable. It's difficult to leave this place without some gloomy thoughts, and it's a safe bet that the inscription at the entrance will stay with you for some time: 'We were what you are, you will be what we are.'
Via Veneto 27
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