Mělník charnel-house in the church crypt
of Saints Peter and Paul
Mělník charnel-house, along with the Sedlec one near Kutná Hora, is one of the biggest in the Czech Republic. It is situated in the crypt under the presbytery of the provost church of Saints Peter and Paul. The church was, within living memory, surrounded by a cemetery, which however wasn’t large enough, especially during the plague epidemics, to accommodate the numerous burials and therefore the gravedigger removed the old bones and piled them in the charnel-house.
Mělník charnel-house was used for this until 1775, when the cemetery by the church was abolished. By a governor’s decree of the 16th of August 1787 all the bones should have been buried. In Mělník this was resolved by walling up the charnel-house windows and entrance. The cemetery was transferred to Saint Ludmila’s church in the suburbs.
During the repairs of the Minster in 1891-1892 the charnel-house entrance was reopened and the tomb stones covering the windows moved into the church interior. After the Minster was renovated in 1913-1916 MUDr. RNDr. h. c. Jindřich Matiegk, a world renowned anthropologist and Charles University professor, started his studies and arranged the bones in the charnel-house. After intensive work during World War I he and his two young assistants (one of whom was his future successor MUDr. Jiří Malý) prepared the charnel-house for studies and public visitors.
The charnel-house contains the remains of about 10,000 to 15,000 people of different ages, sex and origins, because in the past bones found in different places of Mělník’s surroundings as well as remains from the thirty-years war and other skirmishes were brought to the charnel-house.