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Photographer explores abandoned churches, discovers mummified corpses

These temples have not fallen, but they are on the right track.

Dutch-born photographer Roman Robroek has been researching and photographing the gutted interiors of abandoned buildings for more than a decade. His latest photo series focuses on abandoned churches – and the disturbing remains that remain long after the congregation has left.

“Today, these abandoned churches offer a unique glimpse into the past as a source of reflection,” Robroek, 34, told Jam Press. “These are the traces of many communities’ past, and by following them we can see where we all came from and perhaps where we are going.”

While Robroek’s work has taken him around the world, his 100-photo series of churches focuses on the chapels of Italy, where there are at least 1,000 known abandoned churches – and possibly many more unknown ones. Through his images, Robroek hopes to communicate the “decline” of the Christian church in the nation – which still has more than 20,000 churches in use.

abandoned Italian churches Roman Robroek
Italy currently has more than 20,000 active churches.
Jam press/Roman Robroek
abandoned Italian churches Roman Robroek
Robroek specializes in photographing abandoned people.
Jam press/Roman Robroek

The relics he discovers in the abandoned sanctuaries also make for an interesting story. In his House of God travels through Italy he has found everything from ancient podiums and broken stained glass to mummified bodies and piles of bones and skeletons.

By photographing the churches after their prime, he captures a part of their history that might otherwise be forgotten.

abandoned Italian churches Roman Robroek
Italy has at least 1,000 abandoned churches.
Jam press/Roman Robroek
abandoned Italian churches Roman Robroek
Many are still stunning despite their decline.
Jam press/Roman Robroek
abandoned Italian churches Roman Robroek
The series of 100 photos focuses on abandoned Italian chapels.
Jam press/Roman Robroek
abandoned Italian churches Roman Robroek
“These are the traces of many communities’ past, and by following them we can see where we all came from and maybe where we’re going,” Robroek said.
Jam press/Roman Robroek
abandoned Italian churches Roman Robroek
The decay of the churches speaks for the shift in both local and national cultural patterns, said Robroek.
Jam press/Roman Robroek
abandoned Italian churches Roman Robroek
Many of the rooms have fallen into disrepair over the years.
Jam press/Roman Robroek

The most likely reason why most of the chapels Robroek photographs are abandoned is actually “a lack of resources or staff to keep them going,” but the more conceptual explanation lends a narrative to his images.

“Over time, knowledge of these places and their past just gets lost,” he said, noting that many of the buildings — magnificent as they were — even in their active heyday, were of importance to only a small, local group of people .

“In some cases, abandoned churches and religious buildings may not even be known outside of a specific neighborhood,” he said. “Italy is a perfect example of a country that, while valuing its history, architecture, culture and connection with the Church, still has its share of abandoned churches.”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/29/photographer-explores-abandoned-churches-discovers-mummified-bodies/ Photographer explores abandoned churches, discovers mummified corpses

DUSTIN JONES

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