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Kostnice Church of Bones, Kutna Hora, Sedlec Ossuary, Prague

   

Sedlec is a suburb to Kutna Hora, a town in south Bohemia that once flourished due to its mined silver reserve. It is about an hourís travel from Prague.

A cistercian monastery was founded nearby in 1142. One of the principal tasks of the monks was the cultivation of the grounds and lands around the monastery. In 1278 King Otakar II of Bohemia sent Henry, the abbot of Sedlec on a diplomatic mission to Palestine and the ĎHoly Landí to bring home a sample of earth from Golgotha which was later, upon his return, sprinkled over the grounds of his local cemetery. The grounds were immediately considered scared, and hence became a much sought after location for relatives to bury their dead. During the plague epidemic in the 14th century e.g.in 1318 about 30 000 people were buried here and also during the Hussite wars in first quarter of the 15th. century. Such a large number of dead led to the creation of the ossuary in 1511 by a half-blind monk who gathered up the bones to be stacked up within the ossuary, making space for new corpses, which were soon taken up by more victims from 15th century Hussite Wars. The ossuary itself is situated in the basement of the All Saintís Chapel.

In the four corners of the ossuary sit four bells made from piles of bones carefully stacked with a hollowed centre.

The Schwarzenberg family employed wood carver and artist Frantisek Rint to compose the bones into works of art. This included the Schwarzenberg familyís coat of arms, and a chandelier containing every bone in the human body composed of several bodies.

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