The Church of the Dead, or Chiesa dei Morti as it’s called in Italian is a small church in central Italian town of Urbania. This medieval town may not have that much to offer as far as the attractions are involved, but 18 well preserved mummies who stand guard behind the altar of Chiesa dei Morti make up for it with style.
Chiesa dei Morti is a tiny church with a baroque doorway that leads straight into the chapel suitably named “the Mummy Cemetery” (Cimitero delle Mummie). There, behind the altar of the Church of the Dead, 18 glass cases stand erect, each bearing a well preserved mummy that’s been there on display since 1833. The mummies of the Church of the Dead have been naturally mummified with a special mould that sucked the moisture right out of them leaving them in a remarkably good condition.
The mummification and display of the Chiesa dei Morti mummies was the work of The Brotherhood of Good Death. The group, which was founded back in 1567 in Italy took upon itself the task of burying deceased bodies even if there was no one to pay for the burial and kept records of the deaths.
There is a story behind each of the mummies that Urbania locals guard but are more than happy to share with the visitors. One of the mummies was a female who died giving birth to a child. Another one was a murder victim while yet another one died of a heart failure following long struggle with Down’s syndrome.
People’s fascination with death and all things from beyond is undeniable. The Death Tourism is an ever growing travel niche and while the mummies of The Church of the Dead, aka Chiesa dei Morti do not exist because of any grieving circumstance that lead to mass termination of life, they are an interesting attraction for tourists of all ages and interests.