History of Capuchin crypt
The crypt was used to bury brothers and benefactors of the Order. The suitable geological composition of the soil in the basement of the church and a sophisticated system of air ventilation in the walls of the tomb have caused natural mummification of the corpses and the preservation of the original baroque series of painted coffins.
The oldest written document
The earliest mention of a tomb can be found in the chronicle of the monastery in Brno. After its completion in 1656, Capuchin Friars brought the remains of their brothers, who were originally buried in the crypt of the first convent, outside the walls to the tomb under the new church of the Holy Cross.
The second mention refers to the sanctification of the Old Lady altar "under the choir in an underground crypt", which is the chapel, where František (Franz) baron Trenck is buried now. The altar was consecrated by Bishop of Olomouc Jan Gobbar on May 8, 1656, one day after the consecrating of the church.
The tomb extension
In 1726, the crypt was extended to other rooms. This construction was led by architect Mořic (Maurice) Grimm. The new area of the tomb was probably built by using the cellars of houses which used to stand on this site before being bought and demolished in order to build the Capuchin complex. The uneven height of floors and types of arches in different parts of the crypt show it.
In this part of the tomb, benefactors of the monastery were buried. Unlike the Friars, they were buried in oak or pine coffins decorated with handmade oil paintings.
End of burials
The tomb served its purpose until 1784 when Emperor Joseph II. banned burials in cities because of the danger of the spreading epidemics. Only a few vents, out of the sixty which were found in the walls of the crypt and linked to several chimneys leading under the roof of the church, still remain functional. Most were probably bricked already at the end of the 18th century.
205 people, including 153 Capuchin Friars were buried in the Capuchin tomb. To this day, the church basement serves as the final resting place for 41 of them. Bodies of the dead, which disintegrated over the centuries, are buried in a brick tomb (the penultimate hall).
Courageous idea by Zeno Diviš
Another point of interest dates in 1872 and refers to the chapel. Jindřich Baron Trenck had for his uncle František baron Trenck a tin coffin made. Since that time the remains of the Pandurs´ commander rest here.
In 1925, the Capuchin Crypt opened to the public. The credit for it reportedly goes to Capuchin Zeno Diviš who worked as a custodian here and who also wrote a little guide.
The interior of the tomb has undergone a series of reparations which still continue. We wish that the uniqueness of this place excelled - a place that confronts us so directly with the finiteness of our earthly existence and with questions over its true sense.