Note: Not to be confused with the Capuchin Crypt in Rome.
The Capucchin Catacombs (Catacombe dei Capuccini) are located in Palermo, Sicily. Today, there are around eight thousand corpses and 1252 mummies lining the walls of this macabre place. The halls are divided into categories: men, women, virgins, priests, monks, professionals and lastly, children.
In the 16th century, the Capuchin monastery’s cemetery ran out of space and the monks initiated a project to excavate crypts below the grounds. Originally, these catacombs were meant to be only for friars but soon it became a symbol of status to be burried in them. The first ever person to be mummified and placed into the catacombs was Silvestro of Gubbio.
The bodies in the catacombs were dehydrated and washed with vinegar to be preserved properly. Monks were preserved with their daily clothes as well as ropes worn as penance. Soon, locals wrote in their wills their wishes to be mummified with their clothes of choice and even some asked to be changed outfits from time to time. Some mummies and corpses were even put into certain positions to show a scene (i.e. two children sitting on rocking chairs).
But it was not cheap to keep your deseased relative here. A donation had to be made in order for the body to remain in its place. When the relatives of the deseased stopped making payment, the body was put outside on a shelf until a new payment was made.
The last burial took place in the 1920’s and the last friar to be put into the catacombs was Brother Riccardo in 1871.
Closest metro station: Palazzo Reale-Orleans