Monday, April 4, 2011

Kirsten White - March 13, 14

Evora, Portugal

On the last day in the walled city of Evora, Portugal, we ventured into the center of town to explore what is commonly referred to as the “church made out of human bones.” Eerie sounding, I know, but with such an intriguing yet simple description how could we miss it? From the outside, the structure of The Church of St. Francis matched the white stucco Portuguese architecture of Evora, but upon our entrance we realized the exterior walls had been built around the original church to preserve such a sacred, unique place. The original structure was unbelievable! The walls were constructed of longer human bones, laid horizontally one on top of the other, while the ceiling was outlined in skulls. Supposedly, there is up to 5,000 human corpses in the entire chapel, including two full hanging ones. Interestingly, in a juxtaposing manner, the ceiling was painted with pastel religious designs and bright colorful mosaic tiles lined the floors. Standing in a place of worship among hundreds of dead bodies proved to be a sobering experience for us all. The church was created in the sixteenth century by monks as a solution to overfilling graveyards. The elusive sign over the arched entry way states, “Our bones that are here wait for yours,” reminding visitors of the unavoidable occurrence of death.

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