Here’s a little known and rather macabre fact for you – The Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi in Rome, has the embalmed hearts of 22 popes housed with its marble urns.
The former Catholic Church (in 2002, Pope John Paul II gifted use of Santi Vincenzo to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church) was the chosen home for these sacred remains, in a tradition that dates back to the 16th Century.
Inside the church you can see the names of the popes listed to the left of the altar. Their reigns range form Sixtus V in 1583 to Leo XIII in 1903.
The custom of separating the organs from the corpse was called praecordia. The practice was carried out to prevent decay while funeral arrangements were made.
There is also a large collection of ex voto within the church, most of which depict the Sacred Heart. These are small metal ornaments that are left by the faithful as a token of thanks when their prayers are answered.
Should you wish to enter the building while visiting the area, bare in mind that a strict dress code is in place. Shoulders and knees should not be revealed.