The Golden Chamber of St. Ursula's Basilica in Cologne

The Basilica of St. Ursula (Sankt Ursula) in Cologne, Germany is built over an old Roman cemetery where many virgins were said to have been buried, and within the basilica is the "Goldene Kammer" (Golden Chamber), an impressive reliquary and ossuary chapel where the bones of the former cemetery inhabitants, and St. Ursula herself, are on full display. 

For those outside of the older Catholic world, skulls and bones are frequently and unfortunately thought of as being somehow macabre, even grotesque, but reliquaries and especially ossuary chapels such as these are a reminder that Catholic culture itself traditionally has a much different sense of such things by comparison with the comparatively sanitized and sentimentalized pieties and sensibilities of the Victorian era and thereafter. Let's take a look.

A historical view of the chapel

As is frequently the case in these ossuary chapels, the bones have been artistically arranged. One see the IHS monogram here in the centre as well as an invocation to St. Ursula.

As noted, the chapel also includes a number of impressive reliquaries. Here are just a few of them.

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