The Black Death swept the Venzone village in the 14th century. Many people died but did not have enough cemeteries to bury all the bodies. The villagers put the 42 dead bodies that couldn’t be buried in the graveyard into a coffin and stored in the basement of the chapel of San Michael. When they opened the coffin, the dead bodies were mummified. The people believed that God’s will to send their ancestors alive to them to protect the village was God’s will.
The mummies were treated very well as the elders in the village, and this tradition lasted till 1950. American photographer Jack Birns took pictures of the villagers’ daily Life with the mummies and published them in the Time magazine Life. The photos of mummies from Venzone became a phenomenon throughout the world. However, a mummy needs to remove all the organs in the body and the embalming treatment to prevent desiccation. After the earthquake in 1976, there have been only 15 mummies prevented. They are now kept in the Crypt of the Cemetery Chapel.