If you've ever been alone in the room where your place of worship holds its services, you know that strange feeling you get. It isn't creepy, exactly, but being there doesn't feel...allowed. Maybe it's the empty pews or the illuminated altar, but it's definitely eerie.
Now, imagine that the walls are decorated with the bones of Christian martyrs who were beheaded for their faith. That's exactly what the altar looks like at the famous Otranto Cathedral in Italy. That may sound strange, but its origin story is even weirder.
The story goes that, in the 15th century, the Turks invaded the little town of Otranto, Italy. A tailor by the name of Antonio Primaldi led a group of 813 resisters to stand against the Muslims.
When Primaldi and his men refused to convert to Islam, each was beheaded on this killing stone, which is still kept in the Otranto Cathedral to this day.
In addition to the stone, the altar of the church also displays the bones of every person that died that day in 5 reliquaries surrounding the Madonna and child.
Primaldi's own body must be among them.
The legend states that when the Ottomans beheaded him, his body remained standing until each one of his people was killed. Seeing this, one Ottoman soldier converted to Christianity on the spot, but was immediately killed.
It's an amazing story, but I wonder what the place looks like around Christmas. The skulls must keep people from sleeping during the sermon.