Religious and Ceremonious Practices

Archaeologists have done much to determine how the Catacombs were constructed.  How the bones are stacked, where they are placed, and what other bones they are placed with are all questions of interest.  Something that is clear, however, is that all the human remains located in the Catacombs were meticulously placed in careful arrangements.  This makes sense, as the Catacombs was built in order to give more structure and respect to the graves of the dead, rather than having dozens of bodies thrown together in a single grave.  The churches of Paris felt so strongly toward maintaining respect for the dead that the Catacombs were closed to the public for a time, because the bones were determined too sacred for public viewing.  This did not last, however, and soon the Catacombs were reopened for people to come pay their respects.

Heart shaped bones.

This is an example of an artistic display in the Catacombs.

When visiting or exploring the Catacombs, observing how the bones are placed would be one of the most telling experiences you could have.  Pictured to the right is a photo of just one of the formations that would be encountered during a walk through the Catacombs.  This heart shape symbolizes the happiness wished for the deceased in the afterlife and the love that is felt for them by those they left behind.  Other formations include arrows toward the heavens and a shining sun.

The “blueprint” of the Catacombs is also symbolic.  Certain bone formations or tombs are placed centrally as pillars, which shows their importance.  Particularly when multiple hallways lead to the same pillar, the significance and importance of these remains is clear, which makes makes these bones a good starting place for analysis.