Action Alert!

Catholic Dictionary




Originally a spectacular play, given in a churchyard, going back to the fourteenth century, when the Black Death and other epidemics had impressed the popular imagination. The plays opened with a sermon on death, and then a series of figures resembling skeletons appeared. The dancing movement was a later development. Traces of these plays are still found in Germany, France, England, and Italy. Pictorial representations of these plays were made on the walls of cemeteries and elsewhere. Among such engravings the most famous are those of Hans Holbein (1460-1524) and Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528).