Dressed for eternity

The Church has always been keen to stress the potential rigours of everlasting life and there can be no more potent symbol than the Cappucin catacombs in Palermo. These catacombs are not for the fainthearted. Thousands of fully dressed mummified corpses line the walls, stacked from floor to ceiling, shoulder to shoulder. Here visitors are greeted by monks, priests, noblemen, artists, doctors, lawyers, soldiers, ordinary men, women and children, all participants in an unearthly eternal parade. Photographer Paolo Ventura confronted this eerie experience with a sensitive and unsensational eye and captured the strange beauty of the living dead of Palermo who wished to be seen in their favourite costumes as a perpetual memento mori
December 2000 | © Paolo Ventura and reading text | Archive | View images | 1 of 7