These ancient Roman corpses, lavishly decorated with expensive jewels, golden armor, and crowns, were exhumed from the catacombs of Rome, in response to the Protestant Reformation systematically destroying Catholic religious symbols, iconography and relics.
The corpses were given fictitious names and presented as saints, but few, if any, belonged to people of any religious significance. Nonetheless, The Catholic Church decided to present them throughout Germany, Austria and Switzerland; to remind people the postmortem wealth waiting for believers, when maintained loyalty to the Catholic Chruch.
Fascinated by the discovery and story behind The Catacomb Saints, art historian Paul Koudounaris decided to travel all over Europe to find the status of each Saint. Koudounaris's sparked the interest of the greater public with his 2013 book, Heavenly Bodies: Cult Treasures and Spectacular Saints from the Catacombs.
The author makes fascinating, but relatively unstudied field accessible to everyday readers. If you like skeletons, relics, mystery, then this is the book for you.