Meet Vincenzo Piccini

Charles Cowling


There are 18 mummified corpses in the tiny Church of the Dead in Urbania, Italy. They were looked after by the Brotherhood of Good Death, founded in 1567, in whose costume Vincenzo is dressed.  Click him to make him bigger. The original goals of the Brotherhood were to assist the poor and the dying, provide free burial for the dead, and register the deaths.

Among the mummies is that of a young Down’s syndrome corpse who died of heart failure, a woman who died during a caesarian, and the victim of a stabbing. 


Italy – Urbania e la Chiesa dei Morti (The Church of the Dead) HD – Sept. 2007 – Subtitled in english from myksto on Vimeo.

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Richard Rawlinson
Richard Rawlinson

In 16th century (Catholic) attitudes to death, there’s a fine line between prurient fascination, perhaps interpreted today as glorification, and positive acceptance, certainly compared to modernday denial, or at least making invisible in order to avoid discomfort. The latter can, in its most extreme form, prevent someone visiting a loved one in hospital. Discuss!