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  • Chiesa dei Morti (Church of the Dead)

    By Anthony Parente

    Church of the Dead Urbania
    Chiesa dei Morti e cimitero delle mummie (Nalcos980)
    In the quaint Italian town of Urbania in the Pesaro and Urbino province of the Marche region is a rather unique yet fascinating church called the Chiesa dei Morti (Church of the Dead). The church contains 18 naturally mummified bodies and 100 skulls all on display in a crypt behind the altar.

    Back when the town was called Casteldurante the Confraternita della Buona Morte (Brotherhood of the Good Death) was established. They were formed in 1567 to provide all the necessary burial services for the poor. They maintained detailed records of each person they interred in a designated area behind the church, which at the time was called Cappella Cola.

    In 1804 Napoleon issued the Edict of Saint-Cloud. It was a mandate that all cemeteries where to be outside the town limits. Italy adopted this mandate in 1806. During that time, they began to unearth the bodies behind the Cappella Cola. When they did, they were stunned to find 18 bodies naturally mummified. Later it was determined that the soil contained a particular type of mold that would draw the moisture from the bodies preserving them.

    Instead of moving the bodies outside the town limits they placed them in the church sealed in glass displays. There is an old pirate saying, "Dead men tell no tales," but each of these mummified bodies has a tale to tell of just how they died. The Brotherhood took care of the poor, the social outcasts of society who in most cases had violent and tragic deaths. If you look at the mummies you will see just how violent some of these deaths were. If you enjoy the macabre then this place is certainly a destination you do not want to miss.

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