In the 18th and 19th centuries, Southern Italy and, with particular interest, Sicily, witnessed the wide diffusion of architectural structures inside the crypts of convents: the seated and horizontal colatoi. The function of these structures was to allow bodily liquids, produced by decomposition, to flow down drainage channels, allowing the body to completely skeletonise or to preserve its mummified tissues. This treatment, the purpose of which was the exposure of the body inside the crypt, was reserved for members of the local nobility and, much more often, for members of the clergy and monastic communities with a particular impact on the Capuchin friars, considered the pioneers of this procedure. Legitimately inserted in the dense network of crypts and catacombs which, in Sicily, fulfilled the same function (such as Palermo, Comiso, Piraino, etc.), the crypt of the Mother Church of Sortino (SR) has common characteristics, such as three horizontal colatoi, an underground ossuary and seven niches along the perimeter of the main hall in which the skeletal remains of sixteen priests are registered, thanks to the presence of inscriptions with the name and date of death of the deceased. Since 2019, the Sortino Mummy Project proposed by a multidisciplinary team of scholars from all over Italy, has been carrying out studies on the history of the crypt, and on two mummified individuals placed inside wooden coffins in the centre of a funerary room. The study of the two individuals is still ongoing, but the palaeopathological data the team is collecting could soon lead to the attribution of one of the two mummies to Angelo Santo, Provincial Capuchin friar, spiritual point of reference for the city of Sortino during the cholera epidemic of 1837.
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