Visiting private museums can be a difficult task in Rome, especially as a student. The vicious corporate overlords refuse even the most minor discount, driving up prices to fill their fat pockets.
You thought I’d gone mad then, didn’t you? Admit it. Honestly, this museum is a little more expensive than the rest, but the difference is only that of 2 euros. Which really isn’t so bad. But this museum is worth ever cent.
In the heart of Rome, right by Barberini metro station, you’ll find an impressive tall convent. Now it serves as a museum to the Capucin order. The real attraction for people is the marvellous crypt adjacent to the museum. We shall get to that in time. For me, the preamble to the crescendo of the crypt is just as impressive. Learning about the history of the Capucin order and how they came to undertake global good work is fascinating.
Now, those who know me will be aware that I am a sucker for old ivory carvings. New ivory, not so much. But pieces like this which exist in the realm of museums fascinate me. The gorgeous rendition of religious scenes always inspire me. To think someone can so deftly create pieces as magical as these.
This is my favourite piece in the museum. The resplendent rendition of the crucified Christ in ivory humbles me. One can see the pain and betrayal in this rendition. And mortality is a persistent theme in the Capucin museum. This is also a theme which haunts me on a daily basis.
Take care when walking through the museum, there is a beautiful Caravaggio in one of the recesses. This was not attributed to the masterful artist until relatively recently. This painting depicts St Francis in meditation and is simply breathtaking. One would be remiss to walk past it.
Finally, the truly outstanding part of this museum is the ultimate section.
A series of small chapels beneath the church of Santa Maria della Concezione dei Cappuccini contain the bones and mummified remains of an estimated 4,000 individuals. The Capuchin order believes the ossuaries are far from being macabre, that these remains of former friars are a silent reminder of our mortality and the passage of life on Earth.
One finds difficulty expressing the profound depth of the five chapels. One of my favourite quotes, perhaps ever, is on the placard just before entering the crypt:
“The soul sinks forlorn and wretched under all this burden of dusty death. Thank Heaven for its blue sky; it needs a long upwards gaze to give us back our faith.”
I hope this museum affects you as profoundly as it did me.