Death is everywhere at St. Sebastian’s Cemetery in Salzburg, Austria. An unsettling depiction of an emaciated death holding an hourglass evokes the sense of memento mori: Remember that you too will die. It isn’t hard to forget in this cemetery, where skulls abound - including winged skulls, skulls with snakes emerging from their eye sockets, skulls on which angels prop themselves, skulls with hourglasses, skulls with a pick and axe for miner’s graves, and skulls that hold holy water.
The cemetery was built in 1502 and holds the remains of some big Austrian names. Mozart’s wife and father rest there, as well as the Archbishop Wolf Dietrich, who helped make Salzburg rich with his salt mines, and who was later arrested and imprisoned over salt-mine rights. Dietrich was denied the archbishop’s honor of being buried in the Salzburg Cathedral crypt, and instead his remains are housed in a massive mausoleum, the centerpiece of the St. Sebastian Cemetery.
Just to the right of the cemetery’s entrance, up a small flight of stairs, is the grave of and a monument to physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, occultist, and philosopher Theophrastus Paracelsus (1493-1541), “the father of modern medicine.”