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Digging The Dirt?

There are countless mysteries behind the iron door that get told and retold about the 900-year-old Church. Also, they are mostly substantiated with acceptable facts. However, there is a real-treatment there, where mystery has not yet been revealed. One may find a narrow rocky stairs going down, after entering the Church. While the Church itself is historically significant, this story begins at a metal door outside the Church, accessed through the cemetery. Through this locked door, down dark narrow steps, await the famed crypt and mummies of the Church! Bodies, inside those coffins, have been mummified over the years. One of those mummies is even ready to shake hands with the visitors!

The foundation of the St Michan’s Church in Dublin, the Capital of the Republic of Ireland, was reportedly laid in 1095. It was restructured later in 1686. Since the Church was built, corpses were kept in coffins at the vault placed in basement. However, no one knows the exact reason of this practice. The basement is made of limestone mainly to preserve those corpses as mummies. The limestone helps keep inside the vault dry.

It is believed that bodies of members of some influential British families of the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries were kept in the vault after their deaths. The Hamilton Family is one of them. The main attraction of this vault is four mummies, as their coffins have no cover! Hence, visitors can easily touch them. There is a mummy of a lady on the far right of the four mummies lying side by side. The Church authorities have no information about that lady. The other one, lying in the middle, is of a thief. This particular mummy does not have the arms and legs. It is said that he used to be a thief in his early life. So, his arms and legs were amputated as punishment. The person, posthumously, found his place inside the Church as he became a saint, later, and helped people in various ways! Visitors will discover the mummy of a short lady, lying right next to the thief. That lady was a nun.

Meanwhile, the main attraction of the vault is an 800-year-old mummy. The locals know him as the crucified mummy! Most probably, he was a soldier who was crucified during a war. He was about six-and-a-half-feet tall. Visitors can touch this mummy… even, shaking hands with him is allowed!

There are also mummies of several influential people, including Irish Rebel Robert Emmet (March 4, 1778 – September 20, 1803), who was captured, tried and executed for high treason against King George III of Great Britain and Ireland, and Mathematician Sir William Rowan Hamilton (August 4, 1805 – September 2, 1865), in the vault. Earlier, the vault was open to tourists on Saturdays and also on special days. The vault was opened to tourists for the last time in 2018 when the Church attracted nearly 27,000 visitors.

In early 2019, some unidentified miscreants, rather vandals, attacked the vault, and looted some mummies. They not only stole the head of the crucified mummy, but also took away bones of some others. The vault remained closed for many days after that incident. Later, investigators recovered almost all the looted items, and consequently, those were handed over to the National Museum for proper preservation. The vault has recently been reopened to tourists!

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