Here’s one more Halloweenish church in Rome. It is Santa Maria dell’Orazione e Morte (St Mary of Prayer and Death) in Via Giulia. The church was built in 1733 and is decorated with images of skulls and skeletons. It all looks a bit morbid, but the church serves a very useful purpose. It is the home base of a confraternity that buries abandoned corpses.
In Italy we see plenty of skulls and skeletons inside churches. They are called memento mori, and are meant to remind us that we too will die – not such a popular message these days. These ones are both in Rome, inside St Cecilia in Trastevere (above) and Saints Cosma and Damiano near the Forum (below).
Here’s another place with Halloweenish overtones. It’s Aitre St-Maclou in the French town of Rouen, a medieval half-timbered building with a decoration of carved skulls in the woodwork. The building was originally an ossuary (or charnel house), where bodies were stored during the Black Death plague.
With Halloween coming up on Thursday, we were reminded of the many skulls and skeletons that we see in our travels. These ones are in graveyards – the tomb with spooky winged skulls above is in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, and the oddly cheerful skulls below are in a church graveyard on the outskirts of Canterbury in Britain.
We were in the Perth suburb of Claremont recently and stopped to admire this mural. Actually we go to check it out every time we go to Claremont – it’s one of our favourite murals in Perth. It was painted by local artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers (aka Creepy) and is titled ‘Taking Boats out of the Ocean’. You can see it facing onto a carpark opposite Claremont station.