Those Incorruptible Saints
Instead, This news story about Padre Pio made me think about all of our great Catholic saints whose bodies are incorrupt. The news story describes how Saint Padre Pio’s body has been exhumed and will be put on display for the faithful to see. Despite the fact that St. Padre Pio died 40 years ago, his body (particularly his hands) are said to still be in pretty good condition.
Although St. Padre Pio deserves a special post just to himself, I will resist the temptation and concentrate instead on this well-documented phenomenon. (Check out this site about St. Padre Pio; scroll a little bit and click the links for great info.)
A body is said to be incorrupt if it hasn’t undergone decay (even for hundreds of years) without any natural explanation; therefore, it is the supernatural power of God that is miraculously preserving the bodies of these holy people.
There is a very good book on the subject, called The Incorruptibles, by Joan Carrol Cruz and published by TAN Books. The book is available to borrow from the Queen of All Saints library at the Family Life Center (another topic that deserves a post). Wikipedia has an article about the book, listing the Saints and Blesseds whose bodies are incorrupt and linking to Wiki articles about those saints. (Google Books has another Joan Carroll Cruz book, Relics, available to read on-line; it’s very interesting and somewhat covers the same topic.)
There is a good site with a Top 10 List of Incorruptible Saints.
Let me just point out a couple of them. For example, there is St. Bernadette Soubiroux. St. Bernadette was the young girl at Lourdes to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared. She died in 1879; I don’t believe there were any embalming agents used on the body. Her body has since been exhumed 3 times, and there are no signs of corruption of the body. In fact, her body is still as supple as when she died.
You want older than that? Check out St. Silvan, who was martyred more than 1,600 years ago. Pretty remarkable.
There are even YouTube videos devoted to incorruptibility of the saints.
Many people have speculated on the meaning of these incorrupt bodies. Do you have any thoughts? Let us know in the combox.