The Facts About "Dead on Display" - Incorruptible Bodies of Saints and Non-saints (Part One of Two)
THE FACTS ABOUT “DEAD ON DISPLAY” – INCORRUPTIBLE BODIES OF SAINTS AND NON-SAINTS (PART ONE OF TWO)
The Series of Collection of Bodies and Bones are places where enormous collection of remains put together in a place. Here is collection of incorrupt bodies of saintly persons and non-saint as well, but let me give you some facts.
Specimens of preserved human bodies or "mummies" have been discovered throughout the centuries, some even from before the Egyptian Pharaoh times when the art of embalming originated. Many of these preserved bodies have survived decomposition for as many as 3000 years. Of all preserved bodies that have been discovered over the centuries, each fall into one of three categories:
1. Accidentally preserved - These types of preserved bodies were determined to be naturally preserved due to accidental means such as having been buried in dry, hot sand, or lava, or having been placed in an area with high radioactivity. As long as air or moisture did not reach these bodies, they can many times be preserved from significant, but not total decay. However, when accidentally preserved bodies are discovered, they are typically discolored, wrinkled, distorted, are skeletal looking and have no elasticity. In addition they always have a bad odor and always decay rapidly once bandaging is removed for scientific examination.
2. Deliberately preserved - Deliberately preserved corpses are those that were purposely embalmed or otherwise treated before burial with the intention of trying to naturally prevent decomposition. As long as air or moisture did not reach these bodies, they can many times be preserved from significant, but not total decay. In older cases of deliberately preserved human bodies discovered, the body cavities were filled with specific materials like resin or resin-soaked sawdust, or the entire body was submerged in specific materials such as honey, rum, or sand. In more modern methods of attempting to prevent corpse decomposition, the body was typically submerged or filled with resin, tar, salt, alcohol, or a combination of these. Again, when deliberately preserved bodies are discovered, like accidentally preserved bodies, they are typically discolored, wrinkled, distorted, are skeletal looking and have no elasticity. In addition they always have a bad odor and always decay rapidly once bandaging is removed for scientific examination.
3. Incorruptibles - These type of preserved bodies started being discovered back in the early centuries after Christ, though surprisingly, they do not fall into either the accidental or deliberate natural preservation categories above. The causes for "incorruptibles" remaining free of decomposition have baffled scientists to this day. These bodies are discovered in many different environments, including environments that would typically cause an accidental or deliberately preserved corpse to decompose rapidly. They remain free of decay regardless of manner of burial, delay in burial, temperature, moisture, rough handling, frequent transference, having been covered in quicklime (a decaying agent), or proximity to other decaying corpses. They cannot be explained by science or reason.
Some common characteristics of an incorrupt body:
Incorruptibles are typically found lifelike, moist, flexible, and contain a sweet scent that many say smells like roses or other flowers, for years after death.
Incorruptibles are almost never embalmed or treated in any way due to the religious order's beliefs that the person came from
Incorruptibles remain free of decay, some for centuries, despite circumstances which normally cause decay such as being exposed to air, moisture, other decaying bodies, or other variables such as quicklime, which is typically applied
Incorruptibles many times contain clear, flowing oils, perspiration, and flowing blood for years after death, where accidental or deliberately preserved bodies have never been recorded to have such characteristics, to a corpse to accelerate decomposition.
Other partial incorruptibles have been found throughout the centuries where certain parts of the body decay normally, while other parts such as the heart or tongue remain perfectly free of decomposition.
What is most astounding of all is the fact that for each incorrupt body discovered, after research has been done to determine who the person was, it has always been determined that the person was an extremely devout Catholic.
Note that some incorrupt bodies that have been discovered and placed on display have had make up or wax added to them to improve their appearance. This is due to the fact that some bodies, while incorrupt, may not appear as beautiful as others, or may only be partially incorrupt while others are fully incorrupt. To those non-believers reading this page, these minor touch-ups are irrelevant when it comes to the state of a body's incorruptibility; no amount of make up or wax could possibly prevent these bodies (some centuries old!) from decaying once placed on display. The majority of incorrupt bodies remain incorrupt after being put on display, regardless of whether they have been touched up or not.
"You will not allow your holy one to see corruption" – Psalm 15.
On the 12th of May in the year 1333, when attending Mass with all of her Sisters, Imelda had the strongest desire to receive Our Lord. At the end of Mass, when all of the Sisters were leaving, they noticed Sister Imelda lovingly gazing toward the locked tabernacle. Some of the nuns looked at Imelda and noticed something white hovering above her. It was a Host. The nuns immediately notified the priest, who hurriedly came and carefully took the Host out of the air and placed It on a patten. Then he had no choice but to give the Host to Imelda. It was obviously God’s Will that she receive her first Holy Communion. This first reception also proved to be her last; the rapture with which she received Our Lord was so great that it burst her heart. Imelda sank to the ground, unconscious. And when loving hands upraised her, it was found that she was dead. Blessed Imelda is the Patroness of First Communicants; and her beautifully incorrupt body can be seen in the Church of St. Sigismund at Bologna, Italy.
Blessed Margaret (1287-1320) was born a hunchback, a midget, blind, lame, and unattractive according to the world. When she was six years of age, her proud, noble parents walled her up in a room beside a chapel. She could not escape, but could attend daily Mass and receive the sacraments.
Germaine was found dead on her poor pallet at the age of 22.
In 1644, when her grave was opened to receive one of her deceased relatives, the body of Germaine was discovered fresh and perfectly preserved. Her body was then exposed for public view until a noble lady presented the church a casket of lead to hold the remains of the young saint. This lady was immediately cured of a serious ailment; this being the first of a long series of wonderful cures wrought at Germaine's relics. The leaden casket was placed in the sacristy; and in 1661 and again in 1700, the remains of this saint were viewed and found to be fresh and intact by the vicars-general of Toulouse. Expert medical evidence declared that the body had not been embalmed, and experimental tests showed that the preservation was not due to any property inherent in the soil. In 1793 a Revolutionary tinsmith and his three accomplices, desecrating Germaine’s casket and taking out her remains, buried them in the sacristy and threw quicklime and water on them. Even after the Revolution, Germaine’s body was found to be intact except where the quicklime had done its work. Although Satan tried to destroy God’s miracle, Germaine’s body still remains incorrupt and can be seen in the Church of Pibrac, France.
Germaine was born in the year 1579 in a tiny French town called Pibrac. From her birth she seemed marked for suffering, having come into the world with a deformed hand and the disease of scrofula. While yet an infant, Germaine lost her mother; but her father soon remarried. Under the pretense of saving the other children from the contagion of scrofula, his second wife persuaded the father to keep Germaine away from the homestead; and thus the child was employed as a shepherdess, making her home in the stable with the animals.
Maria Domenica was born on May 9, 1837, in Mornese (Alessandria). When she was young, she developed a solid piety and an outstanding common sense and depth of judgment that would show later in life as Congregational Leader.
At the age of fifteen, she joined the Association of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate and began her apostleship among the young people of her village. When Maria was twenty-three, a serious attack of typhoid had a profound spiritual effect on her. The experience of her own physical fragility deepened her abandonment to God and encouraged her to open a sewing school to educate the girls in work, prayer, and love of God.
St. Andrew Bobola
Church of St. Andrew Bobola, Warsaw, Poland
Died in 1657, discovered incorrupt 1697.
St. Andrew Bobola - He was severely tortured and intentionally killed in 1657, and was thereafter buried beneath a Jesuit church at Pinsk. After 40 years his body was discovered incorrupt, despite the body's proximity to other decaying corpses and the excessive wounds on his body that normally would have fostered corruption. His body is still as flexible as a live body and is on display under the main altar in the Church of St. Andrew Bobola in Warsaw, Poland.
St. Bernadette Soubirous
Convent of St. Gildard, Nevers, France
The visionary of Lourdes, died 1879. Surely the most beautiful corpse you'll ever see (with some help from wax).
St Bernadette was born Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France. From February to July 1858, she reported eighteen apparitions of “a Lady.” Despite initial skepticism from the Roman Catholic Church, these claims were eventually declared to be worthy of belief after a canonical investigation. After her death, Bernadette’s body remained “incorruptible”, and the shrine at Lourdes went on to become a major site for pilgrimage, attracting millions of Catholics each year.
Mother Cabrini High School Chapel, New York City, USA
Italian-born nun, died in Chicago 1917.
St. Catherine Labouré
Chapel, Rue du Bac, Paris, France
A Mary visionary, exhumed after 56 years.
St. Catherine Laboure' - Died in 1876 and was exhumed and found incorrupt and completely flexible in 1933. Her body is on display under the side altar in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Sun in Paris.
St. Catherine of Bologna
Died 1463 has been on display in an upright position for over 500 years.
St. Clare of Assisi
Basilica di Santa Chiara, Assisi, Italy, Died 1253.
St. Clare of Montefalco
Church of the Holy Cross, Montefalco, Italy (Body and heart with cross imprint enshrined separately.)
St. Clare of Montefalco - Died in 1308 and though her body was embalmed, her body has still remained perfectly incorrupt (beyond what embalming can provide in over 7 centuries). Her body is still normally flexible and displayed in the church of the Augustinian nuns of Montefalco, Italy.
To be continued: THE FACTS ABOUT “DEAD ON DISPLAY” – INCORRUPTIBLE BODIES OF SAINTS AND NON-SAINTS (PART TWO OF TWO)