Thus it came to pass that between the years of Our Lord 1618 and 1648, the battles of the Thirty Years War ravaged Europe. Immeasurable was the cost of the war. Many millions perished of military actions, plagues, hunger or disease. Many people died in it or were born and died on its ruins…
Then, not quite as many as hundred of the Lord’s years came to pass, and the great European struggle called the War of the Austrian Succession led to 3 more wars. These were the three Silesian Wars: 1740–42, 1740–42, and the Seven Years’ War, 1756–62.
In a word of lesser fancifulness, should one have lived between the years of 1776 and 1804 in south-western Poland, there would’ve been plenty of skulls and bones laying around to celebrate Death.
A priest, named Vaclav Tomasek, was such a man. Between 1776 and 1804, he visited grave-sites where the fallen warriors, civilians killed in the Silesian and the Thirty Years’ War, thousands who died of plagues and cholera were buried, or just barely covered by soil. He’d found lots of skulls and bones, as if the earth refused to take in quite as many.
Father Tomasek collected and cleaned skeletal remains and placed them in the walls and ceilings of the chapel Kaplica Czaszek in the old town of Czermna, Poland. On the outside, the chapel looks as pretty and tranquil as they come.
Inside, however, it’s the veritable House of Skulls.
Some articles say it a “gruesome sight”, “morbid”, “chilling”…
On the church’s altar, Father Tomasek placed the “important skulls”, if such were identified, and also the “skulls of interest” — an unusual bones malformed by disease, as if to distinguish those who suffered in death.
Remember those who died. Memento Mori. Still, whether you do or not, it remembers you… and you… and you, too.