I had the morbid privilege today of visiting and photographing San Bernardino alle Ossa in San Babila, Milan. The church has a fascinating story. If you’re skirmish, get out of this post NOW! 🙂
However, if you’ve ever visited the catacombs in Paris, you’ll know what it feels like to visit such a place.
Back in the 13th century, a nearby graveyard was full. Apparently too many people were dying (probably of the bubonic plague, who knows) and there was nowhere to put the corpses. Officials decided to dig up old graves and pile them high in a small chamber.
Eventually in the 18th century, a church was built, the San Bernardino, adjacent to the chamber.
View from the outside
From the outside, by Italian standards, there’s nothing particularly special about the church. If it were in North America, it would probably be a UNESCO World Heritage site but in Italy…blah. But once you’re inside…
Inside the church
I took advantage that a soft light was hitting exactly on Jesus on the cross. Also, an altar with an open bible.
These would make for great book covers, in my opinion. Notice how I left enough copy space to add text.
Inside the Bone Chapel
Now, the chamber was super dark and I was having trouble getting clean shots. I used some of Steve Heap’s advice on How to Take Great Images in Dark Buildings tutorial, which certainly helped, especially in post-processing.
Inside the bone chapel (also known as the “ossuary), it’s dark, cramped and a bit scary. At one point, I was completely alone to “appreciate” the beauty of death.
Beautiful ceiling art (frescos)
Skulls of the beheaded criminals
Tucked away on one corner, behind a cage, is a section of skulls which belonged to criminals who were beheaded.
Get me the hell out of here!
Hope you enjoyed this morbid experience. If you’re ever in Milan, here’s the details on finding this fascinating out-of-the-beaten-path gem, a 5 minute walk from the Duomo Cathedral:
Until next time!