IN AN UNDERGROUND CRYPT BENEATH a Jesuit church in the small town of Klatovy, Czechia the mortal remains of Jesuit priests and local noblemen were sealed up in oaken coffins in the late 1700s, and they’re still on display today.
Between 1676—1783 over 200 bodies were laid to rest in the crypt chambers. The bodies were laid on a bed of hops inside oak coffins which were labelled with lead name plates. Because of the clever engineering of these catacombs, including a series of ventilation ducts and wells, the air circulated through all the passages and chambers and gradually the bodies were mummified and preserved, leaving their original clothing, shoes, and jewelry intact.
Unfortunately in earlier years, reconstruction of the church resulted in an alteration of the crypt atmosphere and many of the bodies began to decay. In 1937, 140 bodies that were too badly damaged to remain on display were buried collectively in the city graveyard. The site in the graveyard is marked with a commemorative stone.
Now, these remarkably well-preserved mummies can be viewed in a new setting in the rear of the church, displayed in glass coffins. In the catacombs museum there are also some details on forensic studies of some of the bodies, including a recreation of what one of the female mummies might have looked like.