Reality is my Sourcebook: Bejeweled Skeletons

Remains of Saint MaximinusHistory is interesting.

Like, really interesting.

Americans, like myself, don’t tend to get a lot of historical education. I don’t know about the what others may have experienced, but looking back it seems as though I simply learned about the same things over and over. It wasn’t until a few into my university education that I realized I knew next to nothing about American history after the revolutionary war. I was even less familiar with the history of other countries, and even less familiar than that with the history of countries outside of the west. It is a failing I have been regrettably slow to correct, which is really too bad, because ya know all those people who were alive before our parents?

They were awesome.

I mean, they were awful. For most of history, every social group has been dirt under the feet of the social group above it. I firmly believe that the human race has, overall, improved as time has gone forward. But none the less, if you take the time to explore the past, I guarantee you’ll find something amazing. Something like bejeweled skeletons.

I haven’t been able to find much more information than is given in my original source. The scant information I’ve been able to discover about the individuals has covered their lives, and stopped short after their death. But, apparently, these are all saints of the catholic church. As best I can determine, it seems that all died sometime before 1100 C.E. Each was taken from Rome (probably the catacombs under Saint Peter’s Basilica, though I’m not positive) sometime in the 1600s. Their remains were dressed in these elaborate, bejeweled imitations of what was then modern fashion. They were then re-interred in the catacombs of a small German chapel.

I’d love to learn more if anyone can find anything on the subject. Though the benefit of not knowing is that I get to imagine the details for myself. Was this odd, elaborate ritual done peacefully, or were the remains stolen? If the former, why? Was the transfer of hallowed corpses a bargaining chip in a diplomatic negotiation, or were the corpses moved because it was felt they did not belong amongst the hallowed corpses? Perhaps they were garbed in such a rich fashion in an attempt to satiate their spirits for the dishonor of being removed from a more respectable grave. And if the latter, if the remains were stolen, why, and how? Was there a battle, or was their acquisition a daring act of subterfuge? Were they each members of some secret society, and were taken so they could be buried according to that society’s rituals, or were they all secretly members of a single family? The possibilities are enticing, and endless.

This is the stuff adventures are made of. For a low level adventurer, finding just one of these skeletons would be worth delving through a 10-level dungeon. Even higher level adventurers would be awed to find a group of these skeletons posed around a table, perhaps reenacting some magnificent deed from their lives.

Pictured above is Saint Maximinus, whom I imagine would not be a fun person to game with. Each of the skeletons below are labelled in turn. Many thanks for the beautiful photography must be given to Toby De Silva. You can see more of his work on his website. He’s got an eye for the macabre, which I like.

Remains of Saint Alexander
Remains of Saint Alexander
Remains of Saint Deodatus
Remains of Saint Deodatus
Remains of Saint Gratian
Remains of Saint Gratian
Remains of Saint Maximus
Remains of Saint Maximus
Remains of Saint Theodosi Miles
Remains of Saint Theodosi Miles
Remains of Saint Valantinus
Remains of Saint Valantinus
Remains of Saint Victorius
Remains of Saint Victorius
Remains of Saint Vitalian
Remains of Saint Vitalian
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