False: Churches In Spain Built With Bones Of Murdered Muslims

These pictures show church buildings in Austria, Czech Republic and Portugal decorated with the bones of devotees.


Six pictures of human skulls, bones and skeletons have been shared hundreds of times on Facebook alongside a claim that they show a church built with the bones of murdered Muslims in Spain. The claim is false; the pictures have been used in a misleading context as they actually show church buildings in Austria, Czech Republic and Portugal that are decorated with bones of devotees.

The pictures were posted on this Facebook on February 24, 2020. The post has been shared more than 80 times.

The first picture in the post shows a sculpture made of bones and human skulls; the second shows a human skeleton hung on a wall decorated with skulls; the third shows a wall covered with skulls and bones; the fourth shows skulls on a wooden board; the fifth shows a column decorated with skulls and bones; and the last picture shows a ceiling covered with skulls.

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The Indonesian-language and Arabic caption translates to English as: "THIS CHURCH WALLS AND POLES WERE BUILT FROM THOUSANDS OF SKULLS AND BONES OF MUSLIMS WHO REFUSED TO CONVERT TO ROMAN CATHOLICISM

"This church was built by a priest named Franciscan Friar. Building materials are made of skulls and bones of Spanish Muslims who were mass-murdered and buried in mass graves near the church building.

"Among the important decorations to build this church are two intact Muslim corpses that have been dried and hung on the walls of the church with iron chains. These two dead bodies are two Muslim teenagers who were hanged alive and then dried and hung on the wall in the church as decoration for the church where the religious worship was held.

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"The Capela dos Ossos Church contains more than five thousand human skeletons from the original Moriscos Muslim Spaniards who refused to embrace Christianity after Spain fell into the hands of the Crusaders, and Mariscos Muslims were mass-murdered.

"So who exactly is cruel?

"** | When Islamic Power ends in Spain Millions of Muslims are massacred |
History of Muslims in Andalusia (Muslim Spain)."

Below is the screenshot of the misleading post:

Screenshot of misleading post

"Franciscan friar" refers to members of the Franciscan, a Catholic religious order founded in the early 13th century by St. Francis of Asisi.

Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones, is a name given to a number of chapels decorated with bones in Portugal; one of them is this 17th century chapel located in Evora, Portugal, and is part of the larger Church of St. Francis.

The same pictures have been shared more than 120 times after appearing on Facebook here, here, here and here with similar claims.

The claim, however, is false; the pictures have been used in a misleading context as they actually show different church buildings in Austria, Czech Republic and Portugal that are decorated with the bones of devotees.

A Google reverse image followed by a subsequent keyword search found the pictures show four different Catholic church buildings: Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones, in Evora and Faro, Portugal; the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic; and an ossuary at St Michael's Chapel in Hallstatt, Austria.


The first photo: the Sedlec Ossuary in Czech Republic

AFP traced the first photo in the misleading post to this May 1, 2016, post from Vontade de Viajar, a Portuguese-language travel blog.

The Portuguese headline translates as: "Sedlec Ossuary: Round trip from Prague".

The photo's caption reads: "Schwarzenberg family's coat of arms".

The Sedlec Ossuary is part of the Cemetery Church of All Saints, a Gothic chapel located in Kutna Hora, Czech Republic.

Schwarzenberg refers to the noble family who purchased the property of the church in 1873 and hired a woodcarver to create something beautiful from the exhumed bones that had been stored in the ossuary underneath the church since the 15th century.

The Sedlec church's cemetery became a popular burial site after a story that the Czech king sent a local abbot to Jerusalem in 1278, who then brought back soil from Golgotha, Jesus's crucifixion site, and scattered the dirt across the cemetery.

The Sedlec Ossuary is decorated with skeletons of around 40,000 people once buried in its cemetery, BBC reported here. Around 30,000 were victims of the Black Death plague that ravaged Europe in the 14th century, and another 10,000 were victims of the Hussite Wars, a series of wars between Roman Catholics and Bohemian reformers from 1419 to 1434.

The Sedlec Ossuary, nicknamed the Church of Bones, has also been featured by CNN here and the National Geographic here.

Below is the screenshot comparison between the first picture in the misleading post (L) and the photo from the travel blog (R):

Screenshot comparison between the first picture in the misleading post (L) and the photo from the travel blog (R)

Three pictures: Capela dos Ossos in Evora, Portugal

Three photos in the misleading post – the second, third and fifth picture – show pictures of Capela dos Ossos, or the Chapel of Bones, in Evora, Portugal.

The Chapel of Bones is part of St Francis Church, in the Portuguese town of Evora, which was first built by Franciscan monks who arrived from Galicia in 1224.

Translated from Portuguese to English, the first two sentences from this page on the church's official website say: "The Chapel of Bones was built in the 17th century, adopting a model in vogue at the time, with the intention of provoking, through the image, a reflection on the impermanence of human life and the consequent commitment to a permanent Christian experience. Both the walls and the pillars are covered with a few thousand bones and skulls, from the burial spaces connected to the convent."

The second picture in the misleading post, which shows a human skeleton hung on a wall decorated with human skulls, can be found on the website Wikimedia here, titled: "Evora - Capela dos Ossos", dated September 27, 2009.

Below is the screenshot comparison between the second picture in the misleading post (L) and the picture in Wikimedia (R):

Screenshot comparison between the second picture in the misleading post (L) and the picture in Wikimedia (R)

The third picture in the misleading post, which shows walls covered with skulls and bones, is originally an image from stock photo website Alamy, dated September 29, 2015.

The photo caption reads: "The Capela dos Ossos is one of the best known monuments in Évora, Portugal. It is a small interior chapel located next to the entrance of the Church of St. Francis."

Below is a screenshot comparison between the third picture in the misleading post (L) and the Alamy stock photo (R):

Screenshot comparison between the third picture in the misleading post (L) and the Alamy stock photo (R)

The fifth photo of the misleading post, showing a column decorated with skulls and bones, has appeared in this October 16, 2016 post published by blog The Lady Travels, headlined: "Evora ... the magnificent church of tiles verses the macabre chapel of bones".

The photo's caption reads: "A column of bones? It must be a spinal column (hawh-hawh!)"

Below is a screenshot comparison between the fifth picture in the misleading post (L) and the photo in the blog (R):

Screenshot comparison between the fifth picture in the misleading post (L) and the photo in the blog (R)

The fourth picture: the Hallstatt Ossuary in Austria

The fourth photo in the misleading post, which shows rows of skulls on a wooden board, was previously published on the stock photography website Shutterstock here.

The photo caption reads: "Hallstatt, Austria - 22 June 2019 - Skulls in the Charnel House in Hallstatt that belong to dead citizens of the city, decorated with names and floral ornaments."

The above-mentioned charnel house, or the ossuary, belongs to St Michael's Chapel in the Austrian town of Hallstatt.

A German-speaking AFP journalist helped translate the description about the Hallstatt ossuary on the official website of the Hallstatt Catholic parish here.

It partly says: "The Hallstatt Ossuary contains around 1,200 skulls from the deceased from the cemetery in Hallstatt. Around 700 skulls have been painted.

"The practice of skull painting started here around 1720, but skulls have been kept in the ossuary as a kind of second burial since the beginning of the 17th century. The whole thing probably did not arise – as was assumed for a long time – from the acute lack of space at the cemetery, but rather from the tradition of individual families. It was usually not exhumed that way."

Below is the screenshot comparison between the fourth picture in the misleading post (L) and the Shutterstock photo (R):

Screenshot comparison between the fourth picture in the misleading post (L) and the Shutterstock photo (R)

The sixth picture: Capela dos Ossos in Faro, Portugal

The sixth picture in the misleading post, which shows a ceiling covered with skulls, matches this stock photo from image-hosting service Flickr, taken on November 22, 2019.

The photo's caption reads: "Igreja da Nossa Senhora do Carmo (Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church), Faro, Portugal.

"The Capela dos Ossos (Chapel of the Bones), a small ossuary chapel located in the garden of the church. It is decorated with the bones and skulls from over 1000 skeletons. The bones were exhumed from a nearby graveyard in 1816, and belonged to the Carmelite monks who once served in the church."

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According to the book "Lonely Planet Best of Portugal" here, Capela dos Ossos in Faro is located at the back of Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Carmo, which was completed in 1719.

"Accessed through the church at the back, the 19th-century Capela dos Ossos is built from the bones and skulls of over 1,000 monks as a reminder of earthly impermanence."

Atlas Obscura, a US-based online magazine, also published an article about the Capela dos Ossos here, saying that the bones are the remains of 1,245 Carmelite monks that were were displaced when the ossuary was built in 1816.

"The practice of moving bones from cemetery plots into ossuaries after a period of time in the ground (usually seven to ten years) was common throughout Catholic Europe until recently," the report also says. "There are several other bone chapels in Portugal, the most famous being in Evora."

Below is a screenshot comparison between the sixth picture in the misleading post (L) and the Flickr photo (R):

Screenshot comparison between the sixth picture in the misleading post (L) and the Flickr photo (R)
Updated On: 2020-03-13T20:46:32+05:30
Claim Review :   Images of human skulls, bones and skeletons show a church built with the bones of murdered Muslims in Spain.
Claimed By :  Social Media pages
Fact Check :  False
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