History of the Sanctuary and of the Ossuary

italian version

In 1145 this place was a cemetery area where to bury the dead of the nearby hospital.

After a few years, the space available proved insufficient and then in the year 1210, at the bottom of the cemetery, it was built a room to gather the bones exhumed from the cemetery itself. A few years later, in 1268, was built a small church; near the ossuary.

The bell tower of the "Basilica di Santo Stefano", which was located in front of the charnel house, in 1642 collapsed, dragging in its ruins not only the ossuary but also to the church.



This was immediately rebuilt, but the charnel house was rebuilt from the ground up, and ended only in 1695, and is the one that still exists today.

The confraternity of Disciplines took care to adorn the new ossuary: in the years 1694 Sebastiano Ricci painted the ceiling of ossuary.

Above the only altar in marble with the emblems of the Passion of Jesus Christ is, in a special niche, a statue of Our Lady Dolorosa de Soledad (Santa Maria Addolorata), dressed in a white coat; the statue was made in the mid-eighteenth century during the Spanish domination.

The bones in the ossuary are from poor people died of natural causes in the old Brolo hospital; Priori and Brothers who ran the hospital. On the opposite side of the altar there are some skulls of people died violent deaths, people beheaded because they were thieves, crooks and violent.

The Confraternity of the Disciplines in 1750 decided to build near the ossuary a biggest church, the current church of San Bernardino, using the old church as the new atrium.

In the chapel to the right, since 1768, there is a family tomb of a few relatives, the maternal line, of Columbus.

In 1738 the King of Portugal, Giovanni V, was so impressed by the ossuary who decided to copy it in every detail and he ordered to erected it equal in Evora, near Lisbon.

In front of the main altar, on the floor there is a grid from which you can see ten steps that lead to a large crypt. Here is the tomb of the Disciplines. It has the shape of an irregular pentagon.

Along the sides are willing twenty-one niches on which were laid the deceased confreres, wrapped in their dress similar to that of the Franciscans, with their faces covered by the cap without any ornament, with only one name written on tablets placed on their heads, Unfortunately, for security reasons, because the steps are uneven, this place can't be visited.