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John Palcewski's Journal

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Cimitero Vecchio

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the false teeth are rather shocking against those bones. i feel sort of sad for the broken sacred heart statue just leaning against the wall! (have you toured the capuchin monastery in rome, the one decorated grandly in skulls and bones of deceased monks? it's a trip for someone raised in the US, with its aversion to signs of physical death.)

A fellow American ex-pat who lives in Rome has gotten me to agree to come as soon as Fahrenheit 9/11 shows up at a theater, so we can watch it together. I guess I should put the capuchin monastery on my image-making itinerary!


Any further context on these?

It's a practice here to dig up bodies after about 10 years, clean the bones, and then put them in a family crypt with those of other relatives. This is done to conserve precious burial space. The Vecchio Cimitero, or Old Cemetery, is on the eastern side of the island near Ischia Ponte. A few years ago I witnessed an exhumation (not this one) and was struck by how casual and indifferent the gravediggers were. They just tossed the bones up onto a plastic tarp, while an old woman and her adult daughter stood beside the grave, white handkerchiefs over their mouths, silently weeping.

Re: Digging Up Old Bones

I was aware of the practice, but (like you) I was kind of taken aback at how casual the arrangement of the bones was... I would expect something a little more ceremonious....

the fact that his face is nearly stuck to the rock is a little creepy.

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