Driving trying to find both the ossuary and the capuchin crypt in downtown Brno was a humbling and amusing experience to say the least. Luckily, we didn’t realize we were in a pedestrian only zone until we approached the other end of it, otherwise I think I may have panicked a bit more than I was already. No-posts usually keep traffic from entering these areas but they also ensure perpetrators cannot leave once trapped inside. We followed tram tracks as that seemed the most logical route and finally made our way out. The funniest part of the whole shenanigan was when Google maps wouldn’t even acknowledge that we had become captives within this space, opting to show us the way to our next destination from some convenient location from outside the zone.
We did make use of this accidental confinement and utilized a deserted parking space while searching for the Brno Ossuary on foot at the Church of St. James. We sought to enter the actual church itself, however, a lovely older lady volunteer in place to direct congregators to the house of worship could tell there was something off about these potential new subjects. She directed us back outside and pointed down a nearby stairwell (that we had walked by on the way in to the church) and we were back on track.
There are two types of ossuaries that we have encountered thus far. The small chapel in the basement or off to the side of a much larger church, and the commercial, well-displayed offering of many thousands of bones. This was definitely the latter, yet, beautiful, obscure like the collection itself. Dark and somber with water dripping onto the floor in places, the tunnels were not long but did provide for a perfect amount of angst until arrival at the first dimly lit display. It wasn’t until we entered this first crypt that I realized the creepy sounds were intentional. Music written by Czech composer Miloš Štědroň specifically for the ossuary created a new echelon of experience. It did not occur to me that there could be another layer to these encounters but it absolutely enhanced the artistry and therefore the ambience.
Of note were newly fabricated metal-esque statues standing in harsh contrast to the old yet meticulously cared for remains of some 50,000 humans from Brno. With the beautiful yet unusual works of art placed within this unexpected location, again I was drawn to the sense of reverence and devotion to making this final resting place an experience of beauty and sanctity.