The Church of the Bones is the only religious monument in Poland whose interior consists entirely of human remains. The temple was built over 8 years and embodies the legacy of morale and war. For some, this chapel is terrifying, for others it is admiration, but everyone agrees that this is one of the most unusual churches in the world.
Where is the bone chapel?
The church of bones is located in Chermna, in the very south of Poland, 42 km from the town of Walbrzych and 1 km from the resort of Kudowa-Zdroj. The territory on which the temple is located is administratively included in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship – the most picturesque Polish province. The building itself stands in the center of the river valley, and is surrounded on all sides by parks, squares, flowerbeds and lawns. On one side of the temple is a small bell tower, on the other – the church of Bartholomew.
History of creation
The idea of building a chapel of skulls in Chermna came from the local clergyman (Czech origin) Vaclav Tomaszek in 1776. While walking near the local bell tower, he accidentally stumbled upon a cranial bone, and, being interested in the find, called the undertakers to continue excavations. After several weeks of work, a priest and his assistants discovered a huge fraternal burial with the remains of soldiers who died in the Thirty Years War. Nearby were found two more graves. The bones of those who died in the Silesian Wars (1740-1763) were extracted from one, and the remains of those who died from the cholera epidemic, which claimed the lives of thousands of local residents in the XVII-XVIII centuries, were extracted from the other.
Father Wenceslas got the idea to collect all the bones, thoroughly clean and bleach, and then put in the chapel as a symbol of the frailty of this world and the fragility of human life. The construction of the baroque chapel began in 1776, and, in addition to the priest himself, the local aristocrat Leopold von Leslie took part in the construction of the building. Tomaszek died the same year that construction work was completed. Today, his skull is located in the very center of the altar.
The year after the opening of the chapel, one of the Czech priests called it the “sanctuary of silence”, where friends and enemies met, and also members of the same family joined after death.
The “interior elements” for the chapel made of human bones were carefully assembled throughout the district for 20 years – until 1804. The walls of the church are filled with 3 thousand skulls, 21 thousand remains are in the basement of the building.
Once a year, on the night of August 14-15, a mourning service is held in the church. Holy Mass is read in memory of those who died from an accident, from an illness, or in battle.