I am photographing spaces in the south of Italy as they relate to our shared humanity and history, with references to ritual, culture, and even our mortality. The images are made in the underground spaces of the cities, places of worship, and around structures that reference our human history. Permission was requested by the photographer and granted by the administration of the Purgatorio ad Arco Progetto Museo. This Church of Purgatorio ad Arco is in Naples, Italy and was established originally to pray for the souls in purgatory. Worship developed into a Cult of the Dead and was eventually banned. The church was built in 1616 by noblemen who founded the Congrega di Purgatorio ad Arco, an organization to help the poor. In the hypogeum, or underground crypt, there are graves and wooden boxes containing human remains. The public still leaves offerings in these wooden graves for loved ones who have passed. The Congrega di Purgatorio ad Arco buried the poor and said prayers for the souls in Purgatory, a place for souls who have not been completely freed of sin according to Catholic beliefs. The souls might need to be purified in Purgatory so that they are holy enough to enter Heaven. The living can expedite the time needed for purification with masses and prayers for these souls caught in limbo. At the crypt in Santa Maria delle Anime del Purgatorio ad Arco there is a skull nicknamed Lucia or the "Virgin Bride." Lucia has become a patron saint of brides. Her patrons have set her skull on a white cushion and adorned it with a tiara and a veil. Some believe that Lucia died of a broken heart when her father refused to let her marry the man she loved. She is adorned by the veil after death.
Teschio e croce (Skull and Cross), Santa Maria delle Anime, Napoli
Ex-voto, figurina di Madonna e rosario (Offering, Madonna Figurine, and Rosarie), Santa Maria delle Anime, Napoli
Teschi con rosari (Skulls with Rosaries), Santa Maria delle Anime, Napoli
Edicola sacra, Madonna azzurra e rose (Sacred Altar, Blue Madonna, and Roses), Napoli
Teschio di Lucia (Skull of Lucia), Santa Maria delle Anime, Napoli