Capuchins’ catacombs, Sicily

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Do you dare to go down into the Capuchins’ catacombs? If so, you’ll find a maze of dark underground corridors with thousands of decayed corpses hanging grotesquely on hooks along the walls.

When, in 1599, the monks here discovered a new technique for preserving bodies, Sicilians from all walks of life sent their loved ones for mummification and display so they could visit them.

All dressed in their Sunday best, some are little more than skeletons now with caved in skulls and missing body parts. Others still have hair, flesh and staring eyes. Some seem to be grinning, while others have horribly contorted ‘screaming’ faces.

The most recent, a two-year old who died in 1920, is so intact she looks as if she might open her eyes at any moment.

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