Relics in the Basilica of San Domenico – Bologna, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Relics in the Basilica of San Domenico

A diverse collection of wax, bone, papier-maché and mummified relics. 


This celebrated baroque Basilica is quite large, and as one wanders the echoing church they will find a number of relics sprinkled throughout.

The relic of St. Dominic is found in the form of his skull, encased in a decorative gold reliquary atop an altar. At the far end of the church lays the spectacularly fresh looking Blessed James of Ulm.

At first, the full figure in the glass coffin appears to be the very fresh face of a mummified relic, but he is in fact a wax figure. His true remains are kept in a discrete urn nearby. To the left of the coffin, hanging on the wall is what also appears to be actual mummified remains, in this case of Ven. Serafino Capponi, a noted theologian. Capponi is posed with his head tilted lifelessly to one side, holding a cross in his brown withered hands. But this too is an illusion. The bust is actually papier-maché, although it is said to cover his true remains.

However the church is not without true relics, in fact it has a whole room full of them. At the back of the church is a small reliquary museum full of real bodily bits of saints. The glass cases are full with mummified finger relics in fantastically ornate reliquaries, alongside a wide collection of stunning monstrances, chalices and works of macabre bone art.

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December 14, 2009

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