SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
SCEPTIC.INFO Free your mind - question!
THERE IS NOTHING SPECIAL OR MIRACULOUS ABOUT INCORRUPTIBLE BODIES
The world is stunned by Catholic claims that God miraculously protected the bodies of some saints and saints-to-be from decay after death. A famous example is Bernadette of Lourdes. The Church regards these bodies as relics. You use them in worship as a form of prayer meaning you want God to give you some of the noble qualities of the saint.
Bernadette is actually beautified by wax. Mummification is decay. People forget that. She is nothing more than a body that did not turn completely into dust and bones.
The failure of bodies to decay as one might expect is not limited to religion circles.
In 1961 in Wales a Methodist chapel was demolished to make way for some new developments. A coffin was found in the debris. The police and the pathologist arrived and in the presence of six people the coffin was opened and inside was a girl in a green dress who was perfectly preserved. She was Ann Powys who had died in 1820. She committed suicide because her fiancé jilted her soon before they were to be married. The suicide note was buried with her and it asked God to preserve her to reproach the man who had jilted her. There was a report in the coffin that she had lain in an open coffin in her home for nearly a month and no smell or decaying took place. The pathologist could find no reason why the body should have failed to decompose. The body was buried later in a cemetery and a headstone erected. Gareth Davies who seemed to be a descendant of her fiancé paid for the headstone. One thing is for sure, the girl did not know why her man had dumped her for she wrote that he gave her no reason and yet she talks in terms of reproach and humiliation. Not very Christian. And why would God preserve her when the man was dead? She wasn’t preserved to punish him! And when she wrote her note she was not compelled to kill herself for she had sufficient presence of mind so in Christian terms she would have been a sinner. She thereby indicated that if her preservation was supernatural that it need not be God’s work.
In 1782, the body of Catherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII, was found in an amazing state of preservation at Sudeley Castle for someone that had been 250 years dead. The skin on her arm was found to be as fresh and white as she was in life. Her coffin had been found by a man called John Locust who gave this testimony. He took some locks of her hair. One of her arms was white and moist. The body was "entire and uncorrupted" (page 338, Bernadette of Lourdes by Therese Taylor). He buried her again. In 1817 nothing but a skeleton remained. Source wikipedia.
Evil Mary Tudor was found intact and uncorrupted during Victorian times (page 339, Bernadette of Lourdes by Therese Taylor).
The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism by Father Herbert Thurston page 254 relates an account of an incorrupt body being found in a grave that was opened in a churchyard that hadn’t been used in living memory. The story was about a girl found incorrupt in England. This happened outside the context of sanctity or Catholicism. Many incorrupt bodies of ordinary people who had been interred for a long time were exhumed in Paris 1765 despite being in damp soil.
Because the Catholic Church knows that the evil Cardinal Shuster who was once Archbishop of Milan and was a support of Mussolini and his brand of fascism and who died in 1954 was found incorrupt in the grave after 31 years.
Buddhist Monks and yogis have also escaped decay for no known reason it is reluctant to see incorruptibility as a sign from God. It is lay Catholic fanatics and some priests who make a fuss about incorruptibility being a sign from God.
The X Factor Issue 26 page 718 (Marshall Cavendish, 1997) contains photos of people who were preserved for a long time after death. It displays the photograph of a child called Rosalina Lombardo which was taken seventy years after her burial - she was buried in 1920 and she is perfectly preserved. The child never had any prospects of being a saint. The eyes and the eyelids are perfectly preserved which is unusual though there is no doubt that the child was embalmed. Embalming shouldn’t normally enable the whole body to stay preserved. But the method was a mystery until recently and the doctor who did the embalming didn’t leave any explanation behind him. The magazine also reminds us that there is any number of ordinary people who were not religious like saints whose bodies were untouched by decay (page 717).
Rosalia looked incredible in 1995. Zinc salts have been determined to have been the chief cause of her remarkable preservation. However the result was that the body became so rigid that it could stand up by itself. If the fact that Doctor Salafia embalmed her had been kept secret she might have ended up being paraded by Catholics as a miracle. Her preservation was unexplained until recently and Catholics like to see miracles where something is not explained. And the preservation was only explained when the doctor's notes surfaced which outlined how he performed the preservation. Her rigidity reminds us of the petrified corpse of Bernadette of Lourdes.
In China, mummies with European features up to 4000 years old were found in the Tarim Basin desert thirty years ago. They are so well preserved and preserved much better than many incorrupt Catholic saints who are mere centuries old that they look as if they are recently dead. Their clothes were remarkably preserved as well. One mummy had an intact goose feather in her hat.
The best ever preserved corpse is that of Xin Zhui which was found in China in 1971. Her death is dated to 178–145 BC. She seems to have been about 50. An autopsy found that she seemed to be only a short time dead. They found her organs were intact. Her blood was still red in her veins. Nobody knows for sure what was responsible for such a remarkable preservation. Her airtight coffin is thought to have contributed to it. A liquid in the coffin in a shade of red may explain the mystery but nobody knows what it is. The bodies of her neighbours Sui Xiaoyuan and Ling Huiping are similarly well preserved. Xin's body is kept in the Hunan Provincial Museum. She proves that bodies can be inexplicably preserved without accounting for it with the supernatural.
If incorruptibility is a miracle then why is God so bad at it? Why are people able to look at something slightly odd and inflate it to a supernatural wonder? It is evidence backing up sceptic David Hume who said that witnesses to miracles are not reliable.
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