Inside The Church Of Bones Made Of 40,000 Departed Humans

Colorized photo of a chandelier made of skulls and bones in the Sedlec Ossuary, in the suburb of Sedlec, Kutna Hora, Czechoslovakia, 1910. The ossuary, also known as the Church of Bones, is located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints. (Burton Holmes

The Sedlec Ossuary, better known in popular culture as the Church of Bones, is a small chapel located in the town of Kunta Horra in the Czech Republic. As with any ossuary, the building is dedicated to housing those who have shuffled off this mortal coil, but the Sedlec is the only one on Earth to store the dead with such macabre theatrics and bizarre beauty. The bones of those long since passed are not simply stored but displayed in fantastically ornate designs, from chandeliers to candelabras and even a bone-crafted coat of arms.

But Why?

Back in the 1200s, when the region was known as Bohemia, an abbot named Henry went on a holy pilgrimage to Jerusalem. According to legend, he took soil from the very site of Jesus of Nazareth's crucifixion and returned it to the Church of All Saints in Sedlec, where he sprinkled it over the cemetery, consecrating the ground in an extremely rare and hallowed way. It made the land immensely important to 13th-century Roman Catholics. People were literally dying to get into such a revered and holy cemetery, which didn't pose much of a problem until the Black Death came knocking on Europe's door about a century later.