The town of Vodnjan, situated just a few kilometres north of Pula, Croatia, is home to a fascinating collection of mummified saints. These saints are the well-preserved remains of Christian martyrs and other holy figures. This collection, called Sacral Art, is a testament to the town’s rich religious history and has become a popular tourist attraction.
The story of how these bodies, which were not embalmed, have failed to decompose and have been preserved until today (the oldest dates from the end of the 12th century) – still remains a mystery. However, it is likely due to a combination of factors, including the dry climate of the region and the use of preservative materials during burial. These factors, coupled with the careful handling and preservation of the bodies, have led to their remarkable state of preservation.
The collection of mummies was brought to Vodnjan in the 19th century, when Gaetano Gresler brought them from Italy. Since then, the mummies have been on display in the town’s church, the Church of St. Blaise. Alongside the mummies, visitors can also see numerous paintings, reliquaries, mass vestments, and vessels from the period between the 14th and 19th centuries.
Today, visitors to Vodnjan can view the mummified remains of more than 20 saints, including St. Nicolosa Bursa, St. Mary of Egypt, and St. Sebastian. One of the most well-known mummies is that of St. Nicolosa, a Benedictine nun who died in Venice in 1512. It is believed that her body is the best-preserved mummy in Europe.
While the display of mummified saints may seem macabre to some, it is considered a testament to the town’s rich religious history and has become a popular tourist attraction in the area. The collection of mummies is also an important part of the town’s cultural heritage, and many efforts have been made to preserve these valuable relics for future generations.
Photo source: Instagram @visitvodnjan