Sunday, March 01, 2009

Where the Dead Don't Sleep

The February 2009 edition of National Geographic has a feature on the uniquely Sicilian custom of preserving (mummifying) bodies for public viewing. The article is called "Where the Dead Don't Sleep."

The author writes: "In Europe the desiccation and preservation of corpses is a particularly Sicilian affair. There are other examples in Italy, but the great majority are in Sicily, where the relationship between the living and the dead is especially strong. Nobody knows how many there really are, or how many have since been removed from catacombs and buried in cemeteries by priests uneasy with the theology of keeping votive corpses. The phenomenon provokes an instant question: Why would anyone do this? Why would you exhibit decaying bodies?"

Of course, I have seen the famous Capuchin crypt that he writes about (and shows in a slide show that is amazing) many times. Visitors often ask to see this unusual attraction. In fact, I wrote about it in 2005, calling it "Those Creepy Capuchins." And I still find it creepy! However, I didn't know that there were other places in Sicily where bodies are preserved like this. One is not even too far from where I live, just on the other side of Taormina, in a little town where they filmed part of The Godfather.

"Sicily's macabre mummies offer lessons about life," says the magazine . . . although I still don't know what it is.

5 Comments:

At March 01, 2009 4:37 PM, Blogger Tracie/Token said...

Found ya!

 
At March 17, 2009 2:43 PM, Blogger Betsy said...

Have you made it over to those little town where they filmed the GF? It's a great way to spend a sunny cloudless day!-- plenty of other things to do/see besides the mummified...

 
At March 17, 2009 2:44 PM, Blogger Betsy said...

Have you traveled over to those GF towns? Great way to spend a sunny cloudless day...with or w/o the mummified...

 
At March 17, 2010 10:48 AM, Anonymous Alessandro said...

Have you been to Palermo's Catacombe (catacomb) ? There you will find the best example
of mummified bodies in sicily. If you are interested
And would you or anyone else who reads this comment , they are situated in the area of La Zisa,
And while you are there you could visit the haunted castle of La Zisa!

 
At June 28, 2011 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting post. Do you know whether it's still possible to visit the crypt at Savoca? I visited it a few years ago, but had since heard it was no longer open to visitors. A very eerie place.

www.esplora.co.uk

 

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