6. Apostolic Skulls Hidden In St. John Lateran Basilica (And Many Other Locations)
Archbasilica of St. John Lateran is the oldest and ranks first among the five Papal Basilicas of the world. It is one of the four Major Basilicas of Rome (all of which are also Papal basilicas), being the oldest church in the West and having the Cathedra of the Bishop of Rome. It has the title of ecumenical mother church among Roman Catholics . In other words, it is the greatest of the Roman cathedrals.
Being that this is the most important of the Roman cathedrals it holds many of the valuable “relics” of the dead saints and allegedly the apostles. It is said that this cathedral holds the skulls of St Peter and St Paul. The bones were placed in other Basilicas but St John Lateran get the actual skulls. While this fact might seem strange to non-Christians and non-Catholics, it was common practice in church history to collect the bones and memory objects from any of the saints and preserve them. Though, determining their authenticity is another matter. I am sure it is done painstakingly like professional archaeologist and anthropologists. Below is just a few that one can easily see while touring Rome.
For some reason the Catholic church went decapitation happy with Amiens Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Within this cathedral is a slew of headless statues, carvings depicting beheadings, and stained glass showing the beheadings of saint.
St. Denis was the patron saint of Paris, France. It is said that he died of decapitation with the sword. Immediately after the decapitation he picked up his own head, walked two miles, and then passed away. This saint is one of the statues depicted in the picture above. Additional pictures below.
Simply viewing already dead people might not be very exciting for some. For these folks I would suggest going to see someone get crucified. Yes, flash photography is allowed.
Every year on Good Friday groups of Philippino Catholics get together in San Pedro Cutup, and San Fernando to painfully endure the same cruel punishment that Christ had to endure. They have themselves flagellated (getting whipped), then they carry a large wooden cross to a location where they will actually be crucified as Jesus was. The size of the nails, location and duration of the scourging, and other aspects of the crucifixion appear to come in multiple selections depending on the person having it applied to wishes.
The cross garden in Prattville, Alabama was erected by the late W.C. Rice. It was originally a form of “art work” that he used after he converted to christianity. The crosses are labeled with all kinds of signs like “read the word!“, “Jesus saves“, “you will die“, and even “Hell is hot, hot hot!”
The first cross was erected in 1976 after the death of his mother and it kept on growing after that. His collection is made as a warning to all by passers that death comes soon and you don’t want to be in hell. While his tactics for evangelizing might be strange he does admit “I ain’t no educated man, I ain’t no smart man, I got my college degree, it’s the greatest degree of all, from God, Jesus and the Holy GIT DOWN, ROCKY! GIT DOWN!” (Thank you Roadsideamerica.com for providing the interview)
If you don’t like death or dead bodies, you are not going to want to take this guided tour under the streets of Rome to see the gigantic Catacombs containing an unknown amount of bones and skulls from the 1st century to the 4th century.
Besides just bones the catacombs at under Rome are home to a number of preserved remains of both adults and children, paintings on the wall, and even artwork made from the bones themselves. It much more artistic than other catacombs, such as the one in Paris which was designed to cram as many bodies in as possible. It is also the home to nearly all the Popes and many of the church saints, like Saint Thecla
In case you were not creeped out enough yet by dead bodies, let me introduce you to the dead bodied stored in Roggenburg Abbey and Waldsasseu Basilica, located in Germany. While this is strange in it’s own right, what makes it even stranger is that once a year these bodies are dragged out into the streets for a huge dead party known as Leiberfest. According to atlasobscura.com,
“On August 15th each year, the day of the Assumption of Mary (Maria Himmelfahrt), the Monastery in Roggenburg hosts a unique festival that sees the bones of saints get paraded around the town.”
“Not only is this the only day when these decorated skeletons can be seen, but the congregation celebrates a special mass and then carries the saints around the village in a procession that includes a large brass band, flowers, banners, and a taking of the holy eucharist. The three female saints are carried by young women dressed in virginal white and the one male saint is carried by male pallbearers in top hats and tails. The mass also includes a blessing of the herbs.”