Incorrupt Bodies of the Saints


There is a phenomenon in the Catholic Church, that of incorrupt bodies of certain saints. Of these, it is estimated that less than one percent are due to extensive embalming. The church classifies these as relics of the saints. They are unique because they defy the laws of nature. Some bodies are still completely incorrupt, some have begun the normal process of a deceased body while others were incorrupt for years but due to the normal processes (God permitting) they are now buried.

One might consider the incorrupt body of a saint as a SIGN OF HOLINESS. In fact, many miracles have occurred through the veneration of these relics.

One might also view this phenomenon as a CALL TO HOLINESS. Certainly their existence should move one to further reading and contemplation. Various arguments will be presented by some in an attempt to explain these preservations...all of them. Quite simply, anything is possible with God!

ST. BERNADETTE, 1844-1879


Bernadette was born in Lourdes, France. Her parents were very poor and she herself was in poor health. On February 11, 1858, when she was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood, a very beautiful Lady appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle. The lovely Lady was dressed in blue and white. She smiled at Bernadette and then made the sign of the cross with a rosary of ivory and gold. Bernadette fell on her knees, took out her own rosary and began to pray the rosary. The beautiful Lady was God's Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She appeared to Bernadette seventeen other times and spoke with her.

At an early age she became a Sister of Charity of Nevers, and was besieged by many faithful and religious. She sought God in the silence of the cloister, serving Him in humility and under the vows of her profession as a Sister of Charity of Nevers. She lived in the convent for thirteen years, spending a large portion of this time ill in the infirmary - when a fellow sister accused her of being a 'lazybones', she said that her 'job' was "to be ill". Bernadette died on 16th April 1879. The Blessed Mother had kept the promise she made to Bernadette in 1858 -"I do not promise to bring you happiness in this world, but in the next". Bernadette became a saint, not because she was a religious but because she was a very holy person. Her body today, 1997, has never corrupted. She lies in St. Gildard Convent in Nevers, France.

St. Bernadette's body was exhumed three times. In 1925 it was discovered that her skin was found to have discolored slightly in places. Because of this a light wax covering was made for the face and hands.

Pope John XXIII's body to be on display at the Vatican on June 3, 2001.


ST. JOHN VIANNEY, 1786-1859

St. John Vianney is universally known as the "Cure of Ars, St. John Mary Vianney was ordained a priest in 1815. Three years later he was made parish priest of Ars, a remote French hamlet, where his reputation as a confessor and director of souls made him known throughout the Christian world. His life was one of extreme mortification.

He was accustomed to the most severe austerities, even besieged by the devil but this great mystic always acted with great patience. He was a wonderworker loved by the crowds, and he remains to this day the living image of the priest after the heart of Christ.

He heard confessions of people from all over the world for the sixteen hours each day. It is estimated that he heard 20,000 confessions yearly. His life was filled with works of charity and love. It is recorded that even the staunchest of sinners were converted at his mere word. He died August 4, 1859, and was canonized May 31, 1925. To this day his incorrupt body can be seen encased in glass on a marble Altar in Ars. Pope Pius XI in 1929 declared him Patron of all Diocesan Priests.


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