Exploring the Concept of Incorruptible Saints in the Catholic Church: A Divine Phenomenon

In the vast tapestry of Catholicism, the concept of incorruptible saints stands as a testament to the mysterious and miraculous. These saints, whose bodies resist the natural processes of decay long after death, hold a revered place in the faith. Let us delve into the depths of this phenomenon to unravel its significance and implications.

⭐ Understanding Incorruptibility:

Definition: Incorruptibility refers to the state of a deceased body remaining intact and free from decomposition long after death.

Incorruptibility is a remarkable phenomenon observed in certain deceased individuals, particularly saints within the Catholic Church, where their bodies resist decomposition and maintain a state of preservation long after death. This state of incorruptibility is characterized by the absence of decay, despite the passage of time and the typical processes of bodily deterioration that occur after death. It is a condition that defies the natural order of decomposition and is often viewed as a sign of divine favor, sanctity, or spiritual purity. The bodies of incorruptible saints are often found to be flexible, moist, and lifelike, exhibiting little to no signs of decay, despite having been deceased for extended periods. This phenomenon has fascinated theologians, scientists, and believers alike, sparking investigations into its causes and implications within both religious and scientific contexts.

Historical Roots: The phenomenon finds its roots in early Christian history, with accounts of saints' bodies remaining miraculously preserved.

The roots of the phenomenon of incorruptible saints can be traced back to the early history of Christianity, where accounts of miraculous preservation of the bodies of saints began to emerge. In the early Christian tradition, the bodies of certain holy individuals were believed to be incorruptible, meaning they did not undergo the usual process of decay after death.

One of the earliest recorded instances of incorruptibility is that of Saint Cecilia, a Roman martyr who lived in the 3rd century AD. According to legend, when her tomb was opened centuries after her death, her body was found to be remarkably well-preserved, as if she were merely sleeping. This miraculous preservation was interpreted by believers as a sign of her holiness and favor with God.

Similarly, the bodies of other early Christian saints, such as Saint Agnes and Saint Lucy, were reported to have remained remarkably intact after death. These accounts were often documented by contemporaries or through oral tradition, contributing to the growing belief in the phenomenon of incorruptibility among early Christians.

As Christianity spread and evolved over the centuries, stories of incorruptible saints continued to emerge in various regions and cultures. The phenomenon became intertwined with the veneration of saints and the practice of pilgrimage, as believers sought spiritual connection and divine intervention through the relics of these holy individuals.

The historical roots of incorruptibility in early Christian history laid the foundation for its ongoing significance within Catholicism and other Christian traditions. These accounts of miraculous preservation served to inspire faith and devotion among believers, reinforcing the belief in the power of God and the sanctity of the saints.

⭐ Theological Significance:

Divine Intervention: Incorruptibility is often viewed as a sign of divine favor or sanctity, indicating the saint's purity and holiness.

Incorruptibility is commonly perceived within religious contexts, particularly within Catholicism, as a profound sign of divine favor, sanctity, and the extraordinary holiness of the individual. Here's a closer look at how incorruptibility is interpreted as a manifestation of divine intervention:

  1. Sign of Divine Favor: The preservation of a saint's body in an uncorrupted state is often seen as a special mark of divine favor bestowed upon that individual by God. It's viewed as a tangible sign that the person lived a life pleasing to God and was rewarded with this miraculous preservation after death.

  2. Symbol of Sanctity: Incorruptibility is also regarded as a symbol of sanctity, indicating that the individual was exceptionally holy and spiritually pure during their earthly life. The intactness of the body is believed to reflect the inner purity and righteousness of the soul, serving as a visible testimony to the saint's virtue and closeness to God.

  3. Confirmation of Sainthood: Within the Catholic Church, the process of canonization involves a thorough investigation into the life, virtues, and potential miracles attributed to a candidate for sainthood. The presence of an incorrupt body is often considered one of the miraculous signs supporting the candidate's sanctity and eligibility for canonization.

  4. Inspiration for Devotion: Incorruptible saints are revered as powerful intercessors and sources of inspiration for the faithful. Their incorrupt bodies serve as tangible reminders of the reality of the spiritual realm and the promise of eternal life. Believers often visit the relics of these saints, seeking their intercession and experiencing a deepened sense of connection to the divine.

  5. Witness to the Divine:

    The phenomenon of incorruptibility is interpreted by believers as a manifestation of God's power over the natural order. It is seen as a miraculous occurrence that transcends scientific explanation, affirming the reality of the supernatural and reinforcing faith in the divine.
    Overall, the perception of incorruptibility as a sign of divine intervention underscores the profound belief in the ongoing presence and activity of God within the world, as well as the enduring impact of saintly lives on the spiritual landscape of humanity.
Miraculous Nature: The preservation of a body defies natural laws, pointing towards the supernatural and reinforcing belief in miracles.

The preservation of incorruptible bodies defies the natural processes of decay and decomposition, thus highlighting the miraculous nature of this phenomenon. Here's a closer exploration of how the preservation of incorruptible bodies points towards the supernatural and reinforces belief in miracles:

1. Violation of Natural Laws: According to scientific understanding, all organic matter undergoes decomposition after death due to various biological and environmental factors. However, incorruptible bodies remain remarkably intact, defying the laws of nature. This preservation challenges conventional scientific explanations and suggests the involvement of supernatural forces beyond human comprehension.
2. Evidence of Divine Intervention: The preservation of incorruptible bodies is often interpreted as evidence of divine intervention. Believers view it as a miraculous occurrence orchestrated by God, demonstrating His power over the natural world. The preservation of these bodies serves as a tangible manifestation of God's presence and involvement in human affairs, reinforcing faith in His existence and providence.
3. Confirmation of Spiritual Truths: Incorruptibility serves as a powerful symbol of spiritual truths within religious traditions. It affirms the reality of life after death and the promise of resurrection, as taught by many faiths. The preservation of incorruptible bodies is seen as a foretaste of the incorruptibility of the glorified bodies that believers anticipate receiving in the afterlife.
4. Inspiration for Devotion and Miracles: The existence of incorruptible bodies inspires devotion among believers and serves as a catalyst for miracles. Pilgrims often visit the shrines of incorruptible saints, seeking intercession and experiencing spiritual healing and other miraculous phenomena. The preservation of these bodies reinforces the belief that God continues to work miracles in the lives of His faithful followers.
5. Testimony to Holiness: Incorruptibility is often associated with individuals of exceptional holiness and sanctity. The preservation of their bodies after death is viewed as a sign of their closeness to God and their exemplary lives of virtue. Their incorruptible state serves as a powerful witness to the transformative power of faith and the possibility of attaining spiritual perfection.

In summary, the preservation of incorruptible bodies stands as a remarkable testament to the supernatural realm and reinforces belief in miracles among believers. It serves as a tangible expression of divine intervention, confirming spiritual truths and inspiring devotion and awe in the hearts of the faithful.

Scientific Perspectives:

Examination and Study: Despite the mystical aura surrounding incorruptible bodies, scientists have conducted studies to understand the biological and environmental factors contributing to preservation.

Despite the mystical aura surrounding incorruptible bodies, scientists have undertaken rigorous studies to comprehend the biological and environmental factors contributing to their preservation. Here's a closer examination of the scientific inquiry into this phenomenon:

1. Biological Analysis: Scientists have conducted detailed examinations of incorruptible bodies to analyze their physical characteristics and composition. This includes assessments of tissue integrity, cellular structure, and the presence of microbial activity. Advanced imaging techniques such as CT scans and MRI have been utilized to study the internal condition of these bodies without causing damage to the remains.
2. Environmental Factors: Researchers have investigated the role of environmental conditions in preserving incorruptible bodies. Factors such as temperature, humidity, soil composition, and burial practices have been studied to understand their impact on the process of decay and preservation. By analyzing the burial sites and surrounding environments of incorruptible saints, scientists aim to identify patterns and correlations that may contribute to their preservation.
3. Microbial Activity: The role of microorganisms in the preservation of incorruptible bodies has been a subject of scientific inquiry. Studies have focused on identifying specific microbial communities present in and around the remains, as well as their potential role in inhibiting decomposition. By studying the microbial ecology of these bodies, researchers seek to elucidate the mechanisms by which preservation occurs and the microbial factors involved.
4. Chemical Analysis: Chemical analysis of tissue samples from incorruptible bodies has been conducted to identify any unique compounds or preservatives present. This includes analyzing the composition of embalming fluids, clothing fibers, and other materials associated with the remains. By identifying specific chemical agents that may contribute to preservation, scientists aim to gain insights into the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon.
5. Comparative Studies: Comparative studies between incorruptible bodies and naturally mummified or preserved remains have been undertaken to discern similarities and differences in preservation mechanisms. By examining a diverse range of preserved bodies from different historical periods and geographical locations, researchers aim to identify commonalities and environmental factors that may contribute to preservation.

Overall, scientific examination and study of incorruptible bodies offer valuable insights into the complex interplay of biological, environmental, and microbial factors involved in preservation. While the mystical aspect of these bodies continues to intrigue believers, scientific inquiry provides a complementary perspective that enriches our understanding of this extraordinary phenomenon.

Natural Explanations: Factors such as environmental conditions, burial practices, and the presence of certain bacteria have been proposed as natural explanations for incorruptibility.

Natural explanations have been proposed by scientists and researchers to account for the phenomenon of incorruptibility, considering factors such as environmental conditions, burial practices, and microbial activity. Here's a closer look at these natural explanations:

  1. Environmental Conditions: The environment in which a body is buried can significantly influence its rate of decomposition. Dry, arid climates or cold temperatures can slow down decomposition processes, potentially leading to better preservation of bodily tissues. Additionally, the presence of certain minerals in the soil may have preservative effects on the remains. Therefore, the geographical location and burial site of an individual may play a crucial role in their likelihood of becoming incorrupt.

  2. Burial Practices: The manner in which a body is prepared and interred can also impact its preservation. Traditional burial practices, such as embalming or the use of preservative substances, may slow down decomposition and contribute to the preservation of bodily tissues. Similarly, hermetic sealing of tombs or coffins can create an environment that minimizes exposure to oxygen and moisture, which are essential factors in decomposition.

  3. Microbial Activity: Certain types of bacteria and microorganisms are responsible for the decomposition of organic matter. However, in some cases, specific microbial communities may be present in burial environments that inhibit decomposition and contribute to preservation. These microbes may produce enzymes or metabolic byproducts that have preservative effects on bodily tissues, thereby slowing down the decay process.

  4. Natural Mummification: In some instances, environmental conditions may facilitate natural mummification, where the body undergoes desiccation (drying out) rather than putrefaction (decay). Dry climates, low humidity, and adequate ventilation can accelerate the dehydration of bodily tissues, leading to mummification. Natural mummification has been observed in various cultures throughout history and may account for some cases of apparent incorruptibility.

  5. Genetic Factors: While less explored, genetic factors may also influence an individual's susceptibility to decomposition. Variations in genetic makeup could affect the resilience of bodily tissues to decay or influence the microbial communities present in and around the body.

Overall, natural explanations for incorruptibility suggest that environmental, cultural, and biological factors play a significant role in the preservation of bodily tissues after death. While these explanations may demystify some cases of apparent incorruptibility, they do not necessarily negate the spiritual or religious significance attributed to such phenomena within faith traditions.

⭐ Cultural and Devotional Impact:

Pilgrimages and Veneration: The presence of incorruptible bodies often leads to pilgrimage sites and heightened devotion among believers seeking spiritual blessings.
Symbolism and Inspiration: Incorruptible saints serve as symbols of hope and inspiration, reminding believers of the possibility of spiritual purity and eternal life.

Pilgrimages and veneration are deeply intertwined with the presence of incorruptible bodies, often transforming the locations where these bodies are housed into significant pilgrimage sites. Here's a closer exploration of how the presence of incorruptible bodies fosters pilgrimages and heightened devotion among believers seeking spiritual blessings:

  1. Pilgrimages to Sacred Sites: The presence of an incorruptible body at a particular shrine or church often draws pilgrims from far and wide. Believers undertake journeys to these sacred sites, seeking spiritual solace, healing, and blessings through their interactions with the relics of the incorruptible saint. Pilgrimages become acts of devotion and expressions of faith, as individuals embark on spiritual quests to connect with the divine.

  2. Heightened Devotion and Reverence: The sight of an incorruptible body inspires awe and reverence among believers, deepening their devotion to the saint and their faith in the power of divine intervention. Witnessing the miraculous preservation of bodily tissues serves as a tangible reminder of the saint's sanctity and closeness to God, prompting believers to offer prayers, petitions, and acts of veneration in their honor.

  3. Cultural and Spiritual Significance: Pilgrimages to sites housing incorruptible bodies carry immense cultural and spiritual significance within religious traditions. These journeys often involve rituals, processions, and ceremonies that reinforce communal bonds and foster a sense of shared identity among believers. The pilgrimage experience becomes a transformative journey of faith, wherein individuals seek spiritual renewal, guidance, and enlightenment.

In addition to serving as focal points for pilgrimages, incorruptible saints also hold symbolic significance and offer inspiration to believers:

  1. Symbols of Hope and Transcendence: Incorruptible saints serve as symbols of hope and transcendence, reminding believers of the possibility of spiritual purity and eternal life. The preservation of their bodies beyond the natural processes of decay serves as a tangible affirmation of the promise of resurrection and the immortality of the soul.

  2. Exemplars of Virtue and Holiness: The lives of incorruptible saints exemplify the highest ideals of virtue and holiness, inspiring believers to emulate their example and strive for spiritual perfection. Their stories of faith, sacrifice, and devotion serve as sources of inspiration and guidance for navigating life's challenges and trials.

  3. Sources of Comfort and Encouragement: Believers turn to incorruptible saints in times of difficulty and distress, seeking their intercession and guidance. The miraculous preservation of their bodies symbolizes God's enduring presence and care for His people, offering comfort, encouragement, and reassurance in times of need.

In summary, incorruptible saints serve as focal points for pilgrimages, fostering heightened devotion and reverence among believers seeking spiritual blessings. They also symbolize hope, inspiration, and the possibility of spiritual purity and eternal life, offering comfort and encouragement to those who turn to them in faith.

⭐ Skepticism and Criticism:

Rational Inquiry: While faith communities embrace incorruptibility as a divine phenomenon, skeptics raise questions regarding the reliability of historical accounts and the role of natural processes.

Rational inquiry into the phenomenon of incorruptibility involves critical examination of the evidence and consideration of alternative explanations, even as faith communities embrace it as a divine phenomenon. Skeptics raise valid questions regarding the reliability of historical accounts and the potential role of natural processes. Here's a closer look at the perspectives of skeptics and the questions they raise:

  1. Historical Reliability: Skeptics may question the reliability of historical accounts documenting the preservation of incorruptible bodies. They may point to inconsistencies in the narratives, variations in eyewitness testimonies, or the lack of contemporaneous documentation to corroborate miraculous claims. Additionally, skeptics may scrutinize the motivations of individuals or institutions promoting such accounts, questioning whether bias or myth-making has influenced the portrayal of incorruptibility.

  2. Natural Processes: Skeptics often explore alternative explanations grounded in natural processes to account for cases of apparent incorruptibility. They may argue that environmental conditions, burial practices, or the presence of certain chemicals could contribute to the preservation of bodily tissues without necessitating divine intervention. Skeptics may also highlight instances of false claims or misinterpretations of natural phenomena as miraculous, cautioning against uncritical acceptance of extraordinary claims.

  3. Scientific Inquiry: Skeptics advocate for scientific inquiry and empirical investigation to understand the mechanisms underlying the preservation of incorruptible bodies. They emphasize the importance of rigorous scientific methods, including controlled experiments, data analysis, and peer review, in discerning natural explanations for purported miracles. By subjecting incorruptible bodies to scientific scrutiny, skeptics seek to uncover the truth behind these phenomena and demystify supernatural attributions.

  4. Interpretive Debate: The interpretation of incorruptibility remains subject to debate among theologians, historians, and scholars. Skeptics may engage in dialogue with proponents of miraculous explanations, offering alternative perspectives and challenging prevailing assumptions. This interpretive debate enriches our understanding of the complexity of religious phenomena and encourages critical engagement with spiritual beliefs.

In conclusion, while faith communities embrace incorruptibility as a divine phenomenon, skeptics raise legitimate questions regarding the reliability of historical accounts and the potential role of natural processes. Rational inquiry into these phenomena involves critical examination, empirical investigation, and open dialogue, facilitating a deeper understanding of the intersection between faith, science, and human experience.

Interpretive Debate: The interpretation of incorruptibility varies among theologians and scholars, with some emphasizing its symbolic significance over its literal meaning.

The interpretation of incorruptibility varies among theologians and scholars, reflecting diverse perspectives within religious traditions. While some emphasize its literal significance as a miraculous phenomenon, others view it primarily through a symbolic lens. Here's a closer exploration of the interpretive debate surrounding incorruptibility:

1. Literal Interpretation: Some theologians and believers interpret incorruptibility as a literal manifestation of divine intervention and supernatural preservation. They view the preservation of bodily tissues beyond the normal processes of decay as evidence of God's power and favor bestowed upon the saint. For adherents of this interpretation, the incorruptible state of the body serves as a tangible sign of the saint's sanctity and the reality of miracles within the faith tradition.
2. Symbolic Interpretation: Other theologians and scholars emphasize the symbolic significance of incorruptibility, viewing it as a metaphorical expression of spiritual truths rather than a literal phenomenon. From this perspective, incorruptible bodies serve as symbols of the enduring presence of the saint's influence, teachings, and legacy within the faith community. The preserved state of the body symbolizes the eternal nature of the soul and the promise of resurrection, rather than a physical preservation of flesh.
3. Spiritual Allegory: Some interpreters approach incorruptibility as a spiritual allegory, highlighting its deeper symbolic meanings within religious narratives. They may interpret the preservation of bodily tissues as a metaphor for the saint's enduring impact on the lives of believers or as a symbol of the victory of faith over the decay and impermanence of the material world. From this perspective, the incorruptible state of the body serves as a source of inspiration and encouragement for spiritual growth and perseverance.
4. Historical and Cultural Context: Interpretations of incorruptibility are often shaped by historical and cultural contexts within religious traditions. Beliefs about miracles, saints, and the afterlife vary across different cultures and periods, influencing how incorruptibility is understood and interpreted within specific religious communities. Scholars may examine historical accounts, theological writings, and cultural practices to discern the evolving interpretations of incorruptibility over time.

In summary, the interpretation of incorruptibility varies among theologians and scholars, ranging from literal understandings to symbolic interpretations and spiritual allegories. This diversity of perspectives enriches religious discourse and fosters deeper reflections on the meaning and significance of miraculous phenomena within faith traditions.

Incorruptible saints stand as enigmatic figures within Catholicism, embodying the intersection of faith, science, and mystery. Whether viewed as miraculous relics or natural anomalies, they continue to captivate the imagination and inspire devotion, inviting believers to contemplate the transcendent mysteries of life and death.

"Miracles Beyond Time: The Incorruptible Saints of the Catholic Church"

  • Known for visions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes.
  • Died in 1879, her incorrupt body is located in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette in Nevers, France.
  • Received visions of the Miraculous Medal.
  • Died in 1876, her incorrupt body is enshrined in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, France.
  • Known for stigmata and miraculous gifts.
  • Died in 1968, his incorrupt body is located in the crypt of the Shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy.
  • Renowned for charitable works and founding of the Vincentian Order.
  • Died in 1660, his incorrupt body is enshrined in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris, France.
  • Spanish mystic and Doctor of the Church.
  • Died in 1582, her incorrupt body is displayed in the Convent of Saint Teresa in Ávila, Spain.
  • Renowned for his holiness and pastoral ministry.
  • Died in 1859, his incorrupt body is located in the Basilica of Ars-sur-Formans, France.
  • Maronite monk known for asceticism and miracles.
  • Died in 1898, his incorrupt body is venerated in the Monastery of Saint Maron in Annaya, Lebanon.
  • Foundress of the Poor Clares.
  • Died in 1253, her incorrupt body is preserved in the Basilica of Saint Clare in Assisi, Italy.
  • Jesuit missionary to Asia.
  • Died in 1552, his incorrupt body is enshrined in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, India.
  • Founder of the Salesian Order and advocate for youth education and welfare.
  • Died in 1888, his incorrupt body is located in the Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians in Turin, Italy.

Saint Catherine of Siena:
  • Mystic and influential figure in Church and politics.
  • Died in 1380, her incorrupt body is displayed in the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena, Italy.
Saint Dominic Savio:
  • Devout student of Saint John Bosco.
  • Died in 1857, his body is enshrined in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Turin, Italy.
Saint Veronica Giuliani:
  • Capuchin Poor Clare nun and stigmatic.
  • Died in 1727, her incorrupt body is located in the monastery of CittΓ  di Castello, Italy.
Saint Angela Merici:
  • Founder of the Ursuline Order.
  • Died in 1540, her incorrupt body is preserved in the church of Saint Afra in Brescia, Italy.
Saint John XXIII (Pope John XXIII):
  • Pope who convened Vatican II.
  • Died in 1963, his body was found to be incorrupt during exhumation in 2001 and is currently in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
Saint Gemma Galgani:
  • Mystic known for her intense spiritual experiences.
  • Died in 1903, her incorrupt body is located in the Church of Saint Gemma Galgani in Lucca, Italy.
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque:
  • Promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart.
  • Died in 1690, her incorrupt heart is venerated in the Chapel of the Apparitions in Paray-le-Monial, France.
Saint Bernadine of Siena:
  • Franciscan preacher and promoter of the Holy Name.
  • Died in 1444, his incorrupt body is enshrined in the Basilica of San Francesco in Siena, Italy.
Saint Zita of Lucca:
  • Patroness of maids and domestic servants.
  • Died in 1278, her incorrupt body is displayed in the Basilica of San Frediano in Lucca, Italy.
Saint Silvan of Ahun:
  • Hermit known for asceticism.
  • Died in the 6th century, his incorrupt body is venerated in the Church of Saint Silvan in Ahun, France.
Saint Vincent Pallotti:
  • Founder of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines).
  • Died in 1850, his incorrupt body is enshrined in the Basilica of San Salvatore in Onda, Rome, Italy.
Saint Bernadette of Lourdes:
  • Visionary of the Lourdes apparitions.
  • Died in 1879, her incorrupt body is located in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette in Nevers, France.
Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart:
  • Carmelite nun known for devotion to the Sacred Heart.
  • Died in 1770, her incorrupt body is preserved in the Chapel of the Monastery of Santa Maria del Carmine in Florence, Italy.
Saint Faustina Kowalska:
  • Apostle of Divine Mercy.
  • Died in 1938, her incorrupt body is located in the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Krakow, Poland.
Saint Alphonsus Liguori:
  • Founder of the Redemptorists and moral theologian.
  • Died in 1787, his incorrupt body is enshrined in the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Saint Alphonsus in Rome, Italy.

πŸ“‘ Saint Bernadette Soubirous: Nevers, France 

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.

It could be viewed as ironic that the messenger of Our Lady at Lourdes, a place of healing, should be so burdened by illness throughout her natural life. It seems the miracle of Lourdes was not for her. As a matter of fact, in a vision Our Lady said to Saint Bernadette, “I cannot promise you happiness in this life, only in the next.”

St Bernadette
Born into a humble family which little by little fell into extreme poverty, Bernadette had always been a frail child. Quite young, she had already suffered from digestive trouble, then after having just escaped being a victim of the cholera epidemic of 1855, she experienced painful attacks of asthma, and her ill health almost caused her to be cut off forever from the religious life. When asked by Monsignor Forcade to take Bernadette, the Mother Superior of the Sisters of Nevers replied: "Monsignor, she will be a pillar of the infirmary."

She lived in the convent for thirteen years, spending a large portion of this time, as predicted by the Mother Superior, ill in the infirmary. When a fellow nun accused her of being a “lazybones,” Bernadette said, “My job is to be ill.” She was gradually struck by other illnesses as well as asthma: among them, tuberculosis of the lung and a tubercular tumor on her right knee.

On Wednesday, April 16, 1879, her pain got much worse. Shortly after 11:00 a.m. she seemed to be almost suffocating and was carried to an armchair, where she sat with her feet on a footstool in front of a blazing fire. She died at about 3:15 in the afternoon. She was thirty-five.

Doctor Declares: “Not a Natural Phenomenon”

Over the next 46 years, Saint Bernadette’s body was exhumed no less than three times: the first time in 1909, then again in 1919, and finally in 1925.

At the first exhumation, it was quickly evident that a miracle had taken place; Saint Bernadette’s skin tone was perfectly natural. The mouth was open slightly and it could be seen that the teeth were still in place. Although the rosary in her hands had decayed, showing rust and corrosion in some spots, the virginal hands that still grasped it were perfect! The sisters present thoroughly washed the body and clothed it in a new habit before placing it in an officially sealed double casket.

The second exhumation, in 1919, showed no further evidence of decomposition, though her hands and face had become somewhat discolored due to the well-intended washing given by the nuns ten years prior. A worker in wax was commissioned to create a light wax mask of Saint Bernadette’s hands and face. It was feared that, although the body was preserved, the blackish tinge to the face and the sunken eyes and nose would make an unpleasant impression on the public.

That brings us to 1946 and the final disturbing of Saint Bernadette’s resting place. One of the doctors overseeing the final exhumation, Doctor Comte, writes: "From this examination, I conclude that the body of the Venerable Bernadette is intact, the skeleton is complete, the muscles have atrophied, but are well preserved; only the skin, which has shriveled, seems to have suffered from the effects of the damp in the coffin. … the body does not seem to have putrefied, nor has any decomposition of the cadaver set in, although this would be expected and normal after such a long period in a vault hollowed out of the earth."

The doctor was amazed by the state of preservation of the liver: "What struck me during this examination, of course, was …the totally unexpected state of the liver after 46 years. One would have thought that this organ, which is basically soft and inclined to crumble, would have decomposed very rapidly or would have hardened to a chalky consistency. Yet it was soft and almost normal in consistency. I pointed this out to those present, remarking that this did not seem to be a natural phenomenon."


πŸ“‘ Saint Catherine LabourΓ©

Catherine LabourΓ© died on December 31, 1876, and her body was laid to rest on January 3, 1877, in a triple-lined coffin in the crypt of the chapel at Reuilly as a requirement back then for religious orders by Paris authorities. Her remains were interred there until the time of her beatification in 1933.

In 1895, her Cause for Beatification was introduced in Rome. On July 19, 1931, Catherine was declared venerable by Pope Pius XI (Decree of Heroic Virtues). 

On March 21, 1933, Catherine's tomb was opened and her body was exhumed after being entombed for fifty-seven years. The outer wooden coffin had already disintegrated but her body miraculously remained perfectly intact seen by several eyewitnesses including representatives from the Archdiocese of Paris, the Daughters of Charity, the Congregation of the Mission, and medical examiners. A detailed medical examination of Catherine's exhumed remains concluded: "The body is in a perfect state of preservation, and its joints are still supple." After a detailed examination, the body was taken to the Mother House of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. 

The Chapel of the Miraculous Medal in Rue de Bac in Paris, France where the incorrupt body of St. Catherine Laboure lies in the side altar shown in this photograph. 

Months later, on May 28, 1933, Pope Pius XI beatified Catherine. After the celebration of the beatification, the body of Catherine was placed and now lies in a glass coffin under the renovated side altar of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (often simply called by its address, 140 Rue du Bac), Paris, one of the spots of the apparition, honoring the "Virgin of the Globe" where countless pilgrims have gathered close to pray for her intercession, and that of the Blessed Virgin, and where numerous miracles were reported at her tomb. 

On July 27, 1947, she was canonized a saint by Pope Pius XII. The Feast Day of St. Catherine LabourΓ© is November 28 (it was formerly celebrated on December 31).


Saint Rita of Cascia

The body of Saint Rita in Cascia in the urn.

St. Rita
St. Rita is venerated due to various miracles attributed to her intercession, and is often portrayed with a bleeding wound on her forehead, which the Roman Catholic Church claims to have been a partial stigmata.

Saint Rita traveled the path of perfection, the purgative, illuminative, and unitive path of prayer.  She knew suffering and grew always in charity and confidence in God.  The crucifix was her greatest teacher.  Upon dying in her cell the bells sounded out of joy for a soul entering into heaven.
Her death, in 1457, was her triumph.  The wound of the stigmata disappeared and in its place appeared a rose mark the color of a ruby, which had a beautiful fragrance.  Her vigil would have been in the convent, but the crowd was so large that a church was needed.  She remained there and the fragrance never disappeared. So she was never buried.  The original wooden coffin was replaced by a crystal one and she has been exposed for veneration by the faithful since then.  Many people still come on pilgrimage to honor the saint and to ask her intercession before her body, which remains incorrupt. she was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900.

Saint Rita's tomb with her incorrupt body at the Basilica of Cascia. Veneration The "Acta" or life story of Saint Rita was compiled by the Augustinian priest, Father Jacob Carelicci. Rita was beatified under the Pontificate of Pope Urban VIII in 1626. The pope's own private personal secretary, Cardinal Fausto Poli, had been born some 15 kilometers from her birthplace and much of the impetus behind her cult is due to his enthusiasm. She was canonised on May 24, 1900, under the pontificate of Pope Leo XIII and her feast day was instituted on May 22.


πŸ“‘ Mary of Jesus of Ágreda

Mary of Jesus of Ágreda, OIC, also known as the Abbess of Ágreda (2 April 1602 – 24 May 1665), was a Franciscan abbess and spiritual writer, known especially for her extensive correspondence with King Philip IV of Spain and reports of her bilocation between Spain and its colonies in New Spain. She was a noted mystic of her era.

A member of the Order of the Immaculate Conception, also known as Conceptionists, Mary of Jesus wrote fourteen books, including a series of revelations about the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her bilocation activity is said to have occurred between her cloistered monastery in rural Spain and the Jumano Indians of central New Mexico and West Texas, and inspired many Franciscan missionaries in the New World. In popular culture since the 17th century, she has been dubbed the Lady in Blue and the Blue Nun, after the color of her order's habit.

Less than ten years after her death, Mary of Jesus was declared Venerable by Pope Clement X, in honor of her "heroic life of virtue". Although the process of beatification was opened in 1673, it has not as yet been completed.

Various misinterpretations of Mary's writings led to the Mystical City of God being placed on the Church's Index Librorum Prohibitorum in August 1681, due to a faulty French translation published in 1678. The placement on the list of forbidden books proved temporary.

Lying below the blue recumbent statue is the incorrupt body of the Venerable María de Jesús de Ágreda in the Church of the Conceptionists Convent in Ágreda, Spain.
The tradition of the apostle St James and the shrine of El Pilar, reputed to be the first church dedicated to Mary, was given by Our Lady in an apparition to Sister Mary Agreda recorded in The Mystical City of God, and is credited with instigating the rebuilding of the fire-damaged Cathedral Basilica in Zaragosa in the Baroque style in 1681 by Charles II, King of Spain, completed and rededicated in 1686.

When Mary of Jesus' casket was opened in 1909, a cursory scientific examination was performed on the 17th century abbess' body. In 1989, a Spanish physician named Andreas Medina participated in another examination of the remains and told investigative journalist Javier Sierra in 1991: "What most surprised me about that case is that when we compared the state of the body, as it was described in the medical report from 1909, with how it appeared in 1989, we realized it had absolutely not deteriorated at all in the last eighty years." Investigators took photographs and other evidence before re-sealing her casket, which remains on display in the monastery church. Some consider that incorruptibility, that is, lack of normal rot and decay after death, further evidence of sanctity.

πŸ“‘ Saint Zita

Saint Zita (c. 1212 – 27 April 1272; also known as Sitha or Citha) is an Italian saint, the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. She is often appealed to in order to help find lost keys.

Body of Saint Zita in its reliquary on display in the basilica of San Frediano in Lucca,
Tuscany, Italy.

Zita often said to others that devotion is false if slothful. She considered her work as an employment assigned to her by God, and as part of her penance, and obeyed her master and mistress in all things as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family and employed in prayer a considerable part of the time which others gave to sleep. She took care to hear mass every morning with great devotion before she was called upon by the duties of her station, in which she employed the whole day, with such diligence and fidelity that she seemed to be carried to them on wings, and studied when possible to anticipate them.

One anecdote relates a story of Zita giving her own food or that of her master to the poor. On one morning, Zita left her chore of baking bread to tend to someone in need. Some of the other servants made sure the Fatinelli family was aware of what happened; when they went to investigate, they claimed to have found angels in the Fatinelli kitchen, baking the bread for her.

St. Benita Zita died peacefully in the Fatinelli house on April 27, 1272. It is said that a star appeared above the attic where she slept at the moment of her death. She was 60 years old, and had served and edified the family for 48 years. By her death, she was practically venerated by the family. After one hundred and fifty miracles wrought in the behalf of such as had recourse to her intercession were juridically proven, she was canonized in 1696.

Her body was exhumed in 1580, discovered to be incorrupt, but has since become mummified. St. Zita's body is currently on display for public veneration in the Basilica di San Frediano in Lucca.

Her feast day in the Catholic Church is April 27. 


πŸ“‘ Saint Catherine of Bologna, The Seated Saint

The curious and bold who venture past the nondescript doors are treated to a rare site among saintly relics – the incorrupt body of St. Catherine of Bologna sitting uniquely upright on a golden throne encased in glass. The physical remains of Saint Catherine still baffle scientists who even until today cannot explain why, after more than 500 years, her body has retained a level of flexibility attributed to that of a living person.  Wearing a Poor Clare’s habit, her skin is tight with time and dark with centuries of candle soot from those beseeching her intercession through the ages. Regally she sits with her similarly blackened hands tenderly clutching a golden cross and aged Bible.

Having died and been buried without a casket in 1463 at the age of 50, the sweet odor of sanctity began emanating almost immediately from the humble saint’s grave followed by miraculous cures for those who sought her assistance.  Just 18 days after her burial, Catherine’s body was exhumed and found to be completely incorrupt.  Since her canonization in 1712 by Pope Clement XI, innumerable miracles have been attributed to her among those devoted to her powerful intercession.

It has been recorded that after her death, she appeared to a nun at her convent and requested that her body be placed in a sitting position.  One cannot help but wonder why this particular request was made!  Perhaps it is because this is how Catherine spent much of her life, sitting as she did with her sisters, instructing them, and now us, in the ways of sanctity.  Perhaps it is also her way of reminding us that she and all the Heavenly Court are very much present with us today, particularly as we fight the battles of our own lives and times.

“From the distance of so many centuries she is still very modern and speaks to our lives. She, like us, suffered temptations…the temptations of disbelief, of sensuality, of a difficult spiritual struggle. She felt forsaken by God, she found herself in the darkness of faith. Yet in all these situations she was always holding the Lord’s hand, she did not leave him, she did not abandon him. And walking hand in hand with the Lord, she walked on the right path and found the way of light.”

Her posture as a sitting Saint also seems to invite us to continue to seek her intercession, laying our troubles in her capable lap.  The piety and humility she possessed inspired many to follow her in her day. Always spiritually upright, like Catherine, let us also resolve to live as she did – applying her seven weapons for spiritual warfare in our own lives and never letting go of the Lord’s hand even during our darkest, most challenging moments.


πŸ“‘ Saint Agnes of Montepulciano

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano. Note : The raised Foot

Saint Agnes miraculously
receiving the Blessed
Sacrament from an angel
Agnes of Montepulciano, O.P. (1268 – 1317), was a Dominican prioress in medieval Tuscany, who was known as a miracle worker during her lifetime. She is honored as a saint by the Catholic Church.

At the age of 49, Agnes’s health began to fail rapidly. She was taken for treatment to the baths at Chianciano–accompanied, as it says in the rule, by ‘two or three sisters’–but the baths did her no good. She did perform a miracle while there, restoring to life a child who had fallen into the baths and drowned.

Agnes returned to Montepulciano to die in the night. When she knew she was dying after a long and painful illness, Agnes told her grieving nuns that they should rejoice, for, she said, “You will discover that I have not abandoned you. You will possess me for ever.” The children of the city wakened and cried out, “Holy Sister Agnes is dead!” She was buried in Montepulciano, where her tomb soon became a place of pilgrimage.

One of the most famous pilgrims to visit her tomb was Saint Catherine of Siena, who went to venerate the saint and also, probably, to visit her niece, Eugenia, who was a nun in the convent there. As she bent over the body of Saint Agnes to kiss the foot, she was amazed to see Agnes raise her foot so that Catherine did not have to stoop so far!

In 1435, her incorrupt body was translated to the Dominican church at Orvieto, where it remains today. Clement VIII approved her office for the use of the order of St. Dominic, and inserted her name in the  Roman Martyrology.

Died: at Montepulciano, Tuscany, on April 20, 1317. Legend says that at the moment of her death, all the babies in the region, no matter how young, began to speak of Agnes, her piety, and her passing; miracles reported at her tomb; body incorrupt; relics translated to the Dominican church at Orvieto in 1435.

Beatified: 1534
Canonized:1726 by Pope Benedict XIII


πŸ“‘ Saint Teresa of Ávila

Tomb Of St. Theresa Of Avila

Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa SΓ‘nchez de Cepeda y Ahumada (28 March 1515 – 4 October 1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, author, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. Active during the Counter-Reformation, she was a reformer in the Carmelite Order of her time; the movement she initiated, later joined by Saint John of the Cross, eventually led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites, though neither she nor John were alive when the two orders separated.

In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and, on 27 September 1970, she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her seminal work The Interior Castle, are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices. She also wrote Way of Perfection.

Incorrupt Heart of St. Theresa of
Avila With Spear Hole In It
After her death, Saint Teresa was considered a candidate to become a national patron saint in Spain. A Santero image of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo, said to have been sent with one of her brothers to Peru, was Canonically crowned by Pope John Paul II on 28 December 1989 at the Shrine of El Viejo.[6] Pious Catholic beliefs also associate Saint Teresa with the Infant Jesus of Prague with claims of former ownership and devotion.

     Broken in health, Teresa died during one of her visitations to the convent of Alba de Tormes at the age of 67 on October 4, 1582.  Immediately, her heart was surgically removed from her body.  Although this may seem very strange to us, it has been for hundreds of years, a custom in Europe to always secure relics.  Upon examination, her heart, which had been pierced in 1559, had been found with a deep mark in the form of a scar.  The following day, she was buried with full solemnity.  There was a fear that due to Teresa’s popularity, someone might actually attempt to steal her body from her grave, thus an extra amount of dirt and rubble was ordered over her coffin in order to ensure the body’s safety.  Unfortunately, the lid to the
Incorrupt right foot of Teresa of Avila
coffin caved in due to the extreme weight of stone and rubble.  A remarkable occurrence began to take place at her grave; an unexplainably sweet fragrance permeated the area.  This phenomenon continued to the point that on July 4, 1583, nine months after her death, her body was exhumed (another seemingly strange European custom).  When the coffin was lifted from the ground, it was found that the lid had indeed been smashed.  It was also found that the lid was half rotten and full of an odorous mildew.  Teresa’s body was found to be as fresh and supple as the day of her burial.  Given the conditions of her coffin and the lack of embalming, there is no scientific explanation as to why her body should not have been badly decomposed.  What is even more fascinating, her body, last exhumed in 1914 was still incorrupt. 

Broken in health, Teresa died during one of her visitations to the convent of Alba de Tormes at the age of 67 on October 4, 1582.  Immediately, her heart was surgically removed from her body.  Although this may seem very strange to us, it has been for hundreds of years, a custom in Europe to always secure relics.  Upon examination, her heart, which had been pierced in 1559, had been found with a deep mark in the form of a scar.  The following day, she was buried with full solemnity.  There was a fear that due to Teresa’s popularity, someone might actually attempt to steal her body from her grave, thus an extra amount of dirt and rubble was ordered over her coffin in order to ensure the body’s safety.  Unfortunately, the lid to the coffin caved in due to the extreme weight of stone and rubble.  A remarkable occurrence began to take place at her grave; an unexplainably sweet fragrance permeated the area.  This phenomenon continued to the point that on July 4, 1583, nine months after her death, her body was exhumed (another seemingly strange European custom).  When the coffin was lifted from the ground, it was found that the lid had indeed been smashed.  It was also found that the lid was half rotten and full of an odorous mildew.  Teresa’s body was found to be as fresh and supple as the day of her burial.  Given the conditions of her coffin and the lack of embalming, there is no scientific explanation as to why her body should not have been badly decomposed.  What is even more fascinating, her body, last exhumed in 1914 was still incorrupt. 

The incorrupt arm of St. Teresa of
Avila in Alba de Tormes, Spain.
Her incorrupt body, which is above the main altar, in Alba de Tormes. Despite all her illnesses, which she endured her entire life. the body of St. Teresa, remained as white and smooth as alabaster, like that of a child of three. All the wrinkles that had gathered since her illness had vanished. sweet smell which nobody could describe or identify came from the body and everything that had touched it — towels, garments, even St. Teresa 's fingerprints on a plate. 

It became so overpowering in the cell where she died that the windows had to be opened to prevent head- aches and fainting. 

Her incorrupt heart, which was pierced with an arrow. Her body was exhumed several times 
after her death, and each time the body was found incorrupt, firm, and sweet-smelling. 

Her heart, hands, right foot, right arm, left eye and part of her jaw are on display in various sites around the world. 


πŸ“‘ Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart

The Incorrupt Body of St. Teresa Margaret

Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart, O.C.D. (15 July 1747 – 7 March 1770) was an Italian Discalced Carmelite nun. During her brief life of quiet service in the monastery, she came to be revered for her mystical gifts. She has been declared a saint by the Catholic Church

Teresa Margaret had attempted all her life to remain hidden. In many ways she succeeded. But upon her death, the veil over her exalted sanctity was lifted by God Himself.

The condition of Teresa Margaret’s body was such that the nuns feared it would decay before proper funeral rites could be accomplished. Her face was discolored, her extremities were black, the body already bloated and stiff. When her body was prepared and laid out in the choir later in the day, it was almost unrecognizable to the sisters who had lived with her for the last five years.

Her funeral was held the following day and plans were made for her immediate burial. When she was moved into the vault however, everyone noticed that a change had taken place in the body. The blue-black discoloration of her face was much less noticeable. The community decided to postpone the burial. A few hours later a second examination showed that the entire body had regained its natural color. The nuns were consoled to see the lovely face of Teresa Margaret looking just as they had known her.

They begged the Provincial’s permission to leave her unburied until the next day, a request which he, dumbfounded at this astonishing reversal of natural processes, readily granted. The final burial of the body was arranged for the evening of the 9th of March, fifty-two hours after her death. By that time her skin tint was as natural as when alive and in full health, and the limbs, which had been so rigid that dressing her in the habit had been a difficult task, were flexible and could now be moved with ease.

This was all so unprecedented that the coffin was permitted to remain open. The nuns, the Provincial, several priests and doctors all saw and testified to the fact that the body was as lifelike as if she were sleeping, and there was not the least visible evidence of corruption or decay. Her face regained its healthy appearance; there was color in her cheeks. Mother Victoria, who had received the profession of this young nun, suggested that a portrait should be painted before the eventual burial. This was unanimously agreed to, and Anna Piattoli, a portrait painter of Florence, was taken down to the crypt to capture forever the features that now in death looked totally life-like.

The Carmel burial vault was a scene of much coming and going during these days, and had assumed anything but a mournful atmosphere. By the time the painting was completed, a strange fragrance was detected about the crypt. The flowers that still remained near the bier had withered. But the fragrance persisted, and grew in strength, pervading the whole chamber. And then, miles away in Arezzo her mother Camilla also became aware of an elusive perfume which noticeably clung to certain parts of the house.

During the next two weeks several doctors and ecclesial authorities came to the crypt to examine the body. As the days continued to pass the body regained more and more the characteristics of a living being. The Archbishop of Florence came on March 21 to make his own examination. The body was now totally subtle. Her bright blue eyes could be seen under lids slightly opened. Finally a little moisture collected on her upper lip. It was wiped off with a piece of cloth and rendered a “heavenly fragrance”. The Archbishop declared: “Extraordinary! Indeed, it is a miracle to see a body completely flexible after death, the eyes those of a living person, the complexion that of one in the best of health. Why, even the soles of her feet appear so lifelike that she might have been walking about a few minutes ago. She appears to be asleep. There is no odor of decay, but on the contrary a most delightful fragrance. Indeed, it is the odor of sanctity.”

Teresa Margaret was finally buried eighteen days after her death. The report of miracles attributed to her intercession began immediately. Thirty-five years later, on June 21, 1805, the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the incorrupt body of St. Teresa Margaret was transferred to the nuns’ choir in the Carmel of Florence where it remains to this day.


πŸ“‘ Saint Catherine of Siena

Sarcophagus of St. Catherine beneath the High Altar of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome.

Saint Catherine of Siena TOSD (25 March 1347 – 29 April 1380), was a tertiary of the Dominican Order and a Scholastic philosopher and theologian who had a great influence on the Catholic Church. She is declared a saint and a doctor of the Church.

Born in Siena, she grew up there and wanted very soon to devote herself to God, against the will of her parents. She joined the Sisters of the Penance of St. Dominic and made her vows. She made herself known very quickly by being marked by mystical phenomena such as stigmata and mystical marriage.

In 1380 her health began to fail and Catherine prayed to join Christ. She could scarcely swallow due to severe inflammation in her throat. On Sexagesima Sunday, she suffered a violent stroke, followed by another one the next evening. Nonetheless, she rose every day during most of Lent and walked a mile to St. Peter's, where she prayed all day. Finally, overcome, she lay in bed for eight weeks, covered with sores and unable to lift her head. Her body wasted away. In her final hours, she rallied to berate herself for her imperfections and sins, and to pray for the Church, the pope and others. She asked for, and received, plenary indulgence to be absolved Of all her sins, saying it had been granted to her by Popes Gregory and Urban. 

Catherine died at age 33 on April 29, the Sunday before the Ascension. Her body was displayed for three days and remained intact, flexible and fragrant. Huge crowds came to touch her corpse.

Saint Catherine of Siena's divine head
Catherine was buried in the cemetery Of the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, and soon was moved to the foot of a column facing the Rosary Chapel, where she remained until 1430. However, in 1385 her head was severed, placed in a gilded copper reliquary and secretly sent to Siena, where it eventually Was placed in the Hospital of St. lazarus, where she had ministered the sick. Other relics taken from the body at the same time were an arm for Siena and three fingers for

In 1430, what remained of the body was placed in a new stone sarcophagus. It was opened from time to time for the taking of more relics for Dominicans throughout Europe, including: 

A hand taken in 1487 for the Dominican Sisters of the Monastery of S. Domenico et Sisto in Rome; 
↷ The left foot, bearing stigmata, taken in 1487 for the Church of SS. John and Paul in Venice; 

↷ A rib taken in 1501 for the convent of St. Mark in Florence; 
↷ A shoulder blade taken in 1575 for the Dominican Sisters of Magnanapoli in Rome; two reliquaries of bone and skin taken in 1853 for St. Dominic in Stone, England, and the convent of St. Catherine in Bow, England. 

The finger that bore the mystical ring of Christ was given to the Chartreuse of Pontiniano near Florence. Other small relics were distributed as well. 

On August 4, 1855, the sarcophagus of Catherine was placed below the main altar of the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. This event is known as the Translation Of the Relics of St. Catherine, which feast is commemorated on the Thursday after Sexagesima Sunday. 

The Feast of her Espousals is kept on the Thursday of the carnival. 


πŸ“‘ Saint Clare of Montefalco

Saint Clare of Montefalco (Italian:Chiara da Montefalco) (c. 1268 – August 18, 1308), also called Saint Clare of the Cross, was an Augustinian nun and abbess. Before becoming a nun, St. Clare was a member of the Third Order of St. Francis (Secular). She was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on December 8, 1881.

When Clare was on her deathbed in 1308, she repeatedly said, "Know that in my very heart I have and hold Christ crucified." Soon after her death, her sisters were inspired to take out her heart. When they did so, a quantity of blood rushed out and was collected in a vial that had been washed and purified. 

Her heart was larger than normal. They opened it and found clear symbols of the passion of Christ that were part of the cardiac tissue itself. The symbols were: 
A thumb-sized crucifix. The body of Christ was white and his lance wound red, and his loins were covered in white tissue. 
↷ A scourge formed of a hard, white nerve 
↷ The crown of thorns composed of tiny sharp nerves 
↷ The three nails formed of a dark, sharp fibrous tissue 
↷ The lance and sponge formed of nerve tissue 

In addition, three mysterious pellets were found in thc gall. The pellets were about the size of hazelnuts, and were judged by theologians to be symbols of the Trinity. Any one of them was as heavy as the other two, while at other times any one Of them equaled the weight Of all three together. The sisters locked the heart and vial of blood in a box. The next day these items were examined by a group of officials who included the chief magistrate, the leading doctor in the town and a public notary, with a representative of the Franciscan house at Foligno in attendance. More examinations were conducted later by other Church officials and politicians.

Image of the Cross was found imprinted on her heart
Clares body and heart remained incorrupt. At various times the blood was seen to liquefy and also to boil and bubble. These episodes seemed to presage political disturbances and turmoil. Liquefactions were recorded in 1495, 1500, 1508, 1560, 1570, 1601, 1608 and 1618. In the 17th century a commission was established to investigate the mystery of the blood, and con- eluded that no natural explanation could be found. 

In 1608 the body was moved from its shrine. The blood in the vial had dried and coagulated. The vial was dropped and everything broke into pieces. All the pieces were collected and placed in a crystal vessel. Over time this vessel cracked and was placed in a third vessel. 

The incorrupt body of Clare can be viewed at the Santuario S. Chiara da Montefalco. Her incorrupt heart is enclosed in a bust and can be viewed under a crystal. The pellets are in a jeweled cross kept in the Church 01 the Holy Cross in Montefalco.

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πŸ“‘ Sister Mary of the Divine Heart

Sister Mary of the Divine Heart (MΓΌnster, September 8, 1863 – Porto, June 8, 1899), born Maria Droste zu Vischering, was a person of old German nobility (Uradel) and Roman Catholic nun of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, best known for having influenced Pope Leo XIII to make the consecration of the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Leo XIII himself called this solemn consecration "the greatest act of my pontificate".

Sister Mary of the Divine Heart died on June 8, 1899, the feast of the Sacred Heart, three days before the consecration, which had been deferred to the following Sunday.

Tomb-reliquary of Blessed Mary of
the Divine Heart inside the Church of
the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Ermesinde)
Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart's incorrupt body is exposed for public veneration in the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Ermesinde, in northern Portugal. The church is adjacent to the Convent of the Good Shepherd Sisters. There is also a relic of her body exposed for public veneration at the Sanctuary of Christ the King in Almada, near Lisbon, Portugal.

In 1964, Sister Mary of the Divine Heart, the countess of Droste zu Vischering, officially received the title of Venerable by the Catholic Church. 

On November 1, 1975, she was declared blessed by Pope Paul VI. Doctor Waldery Hilgeman is the Postulator of the cause of canonization.


πŸ“‘ Blessed Margaret of Castello

The holy death of Blessed Margaret of Castello occurred on April 13, 1320, when she was thirty-three years of age. The people of the city blocked the funeral procession out of the church, demanding that she be buried in the church because of her well-known reputation for sanctity. A small crippled child who had never walked was brought to her coffin inside the church. Immediately she was healed completely, and began to walk for the first time. After her death, more than two hundred miracles occurred in confirmation of her heroic sanctity and upon exhumation, her body was discovered to be incorrupt.

Blessed Margaret of Castello had often been heard to say, "Oh, if you only knew what I have in my heart!" Inside her heart were found three pearls on which appeared to be carved religious symbols, and the images of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and St Joseph.

After the exhumation, Bl. Margaret's body was re-clothed in a fresh habit and was placed in a new coffin. Many miracles followed this ceremony. Her cause for beatification, which was undertaken with renewed interest, came to a successful conclusion on October 19, 1609. Pope Paul V officially recognized Margaret’s sanctity, pronouncing her a beata and designating April 13 as her feast day. Her cause for canonization is still pending.

Today many invoke Bl. Margaret of Castello as a patroness in the battle against abortion. Like so many children today, she was 'unwanted' by her parents. Had she been conceived in our day and age, when abortion is held as legal in nearly every corner of the world, she would almost surely have been murdered in utero or as an infant. The world would have been deprived of a great heroine and inspiration. She is a striking witness to the truth that God's ways are not man's ways (cf. Is 55:8) and that God exalts the lowly and humble (cf. Lk 1:52).

The Incorrupt Face of Blessed Margaret of Castello
The body of Blessed Margaret, which has never been embalmed, is dressed in a Dominican habit, and lies under the high altar of the Church of St. Domenico at Citta-di-Castello, Italy. The arms of the body are still flexible, the eyelashes are present, and the nails are in place on the hands and feet. The coloring of the body has darkened slightly and the skin is dry and somewhat hardened, but by all standards the preservation can be considered a remarkable condition, having endured for almost seven hundred years.

πŸ“‘ Saint Catherine of Genoa

Saint Catherine of Genoa incorrupt body

Saint Catherine of Genoa (Caterina Fieschi Adorno, 1447 – 15 September 1510) was an Italian Roman Catholic saint and mystic, admired for her work among the sick and the poor and remembered because of various writings describing both these actions and her mystical experiences. She was a member of the noble Fieschi family, and spent most of her life and her means serving the sick, especially during the plague which ravaged Genoa in 1497 and 1501. She died in that city in 1510.

Beginning around 1491, Catherine began to suffer from a mysterious malady that doctors did not know how to treat. It did not seem to be either physical or spiritual; it left her greatly debilitated. In 1493, Catherine nearly died of the plague. She recovered, but remained permanently weakened. 

Catherine followed her own inner guidance and would not submit to the spiritual direction of anyone else. She often told others that she could not put into words what she experienced. In 1495 a Father Marabotti became her spiritual adviser, and helped her to compile her memoirs in her Life and Doctrine. 

In 1509 her food intake, which had never been good, declined drastically; she ate in a week what most people would cat in a day. That soon dropped to nothing more than small quantities of broth. Nonetheless, Catherine attracted many visitors, who saw perfection in her. She touched others with her "burning words of divine love." But as her strength ebbed, she was able to utter only phrases and words, such as "Love of God" and "charity, union and peace," and finally just "God." She suffered violent attacks in which she would seem to writhe as if in flames of fire, and would cease breathing. She felt her heart wounded with a new ray of divine love, which caused more severe bodily pain. 

On January 10, 1510, she lost sight and speech, and made signs to be given last rites. She recovered her senses but continued to suffer in agony. By May doctors said they could do nothing for her and that her affliction was "supernatural." Her last months were spent in excruciating pain. She could not tolerate taking any food or liquid. On September 12, black blood flowed from her mouth and her body was covered with black stripes. She bled violently again on September 14. That evening, she indicated she would Lake her Communion in heaven. She died uttering, "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit." She was seen by several persons ascending to heaven clothed in white and on a white cloud.

Catherines body was interred in the hospital of the Pammatone, the largest hospital in Genoa, where she had done much of her work. It was disinterred nearly a year later when it was discovered that a conduit of water ran behind the tomb. Though the wood coffin was decayed and filled with worms, the body was untouched and incorrupt, and appeared to have been dried out. Her body was put on public display for eight days, and pilgrims claimed to be cured. Prior to her death, Catherine had instructed that her heart be examined after death to see if it had been consumed by divine love, but this was not done. The body was placed into a marble sepulcher in the hospital. It was moved to various locations in 1551, 1593 and 1642. In 1694 it was moved to a glass-sided reliquary placed high on an altar in a church built in her honor in the quarter of Portoria, Genova. Catherines body was examined by physicians in 1834 and on May 10, 1960. Though brown, dry and rigid, her relic was determined to be free or embalming or any treatment [or preservation. Catherine wrote Spiritual Dialogue between the Soul, the Body, Sew-Love, the Spirit, Humanity and lhc Lord God and Treatise on Purgatory, two mystical works that proved her sanctity for canonization and remain respected today.

In her writings, Catherine exhorts people to seek nothing less than complete union with God. Without the grace of God, she said, man is nothing more than the devil. She said the human intellect could not comprehend the true nature of pure love, which is incapable of suffering. 


πŸ“‘ Saint Dominic

The Tomb of St Dominic

St Dominic
Although many miraculous events accompanied the death of St. Dominic, his sons were in no hurry to canonize him. Their thought was, “Of course he’s a saint. Everyone knows that.” But when it became necessary to enlarge the Church of St. Nicholas where he was buried, it also became necessary to move the saint’s body. And so, on May 23, 1233, twelve years after he died, his grave was opened in the presence of the chief fathers of the general chapter then assembled at Bologna, together with the bishops, prelates, and magistrates who had come to be present for the occasion. In her Life of St. Dominic, Augusta Theodosia Drane describes the scene as follows:

Reliquary with the
Skull of St Dominic
Rodolph of Faenza, who had been so dear a son to the great patriarch, was the first to commence raising the stone. Hardly had he begun to remove the mortar and earth that lay beneath when an extraordinary odor was perceptible, which increased in power and sweetness as they dug deeper, until at length when the coffin appeared and was raised to the surface of the grave, the whole church was filled with the perfume.The bystanders knelt on the pavement, shedding tears of emotion as the lid was raised, when there were once more exposed to their eyes, unchanged, and with the same look of sweetness and majesty they had ever worn in life, the features of their glorious father. (230-231)

It was Blessed Jordan who raised the body of the beloved father from the coffin. Eight days afterwards, this was once more opened to satisfy the devotion of some nobles and others who had been present on the previous occasion; then it was that Jordan, taking the saint’s head between his hands, kissed it, and so holding it in his arms, he desired all the fathers of the chapter to approach and gaze at it for the last time. One after another they came, and kissed the features that still smiled on them like a father. All were conscious of the same extraordinary odor. It remained on the hands and clothes of all who touched, or came near the body; nor was this the case merely at the time of the translation. Flaminius, who lived 300 years afterwards, wrote in 1527: “This divine odor of which we have spoken, adheres to the relics even to this present day.” (232)St. Dominic was canonized in July, 1234, by Pope Gregory IX, a close friend to both Dominic and Francis of Assisi, whom he also canonized. (1232)

πŸ“‘ St. Louis Bertrand (1526 - 1581)

St. Louis Bertrand is believed to be a relative of St. Vincent Ferrer. On the day of his birth, he was baptized in the same font in which Vincent Ferrer was baptized 150 years before him. He was received into the Dominican order at the age of 19 and was ordained before he was 22. He filled many offices within the order, most notably, that of master of novices. By the practice of outstanding virtue, self-denial and penance, he furnished for the novices a perfect model for their imitation.

In 1562 he was sent to work among the Indians in the north-western part of South America. During the seven years he was there, working with many different tribes, he was favoured with the gift of tongues. His preaching was accompanied by many miracles and prophecies. He once raised a girl to life by the application of a rosary. He attributed to Our Lady all the miracles manifested through him.

After returning to his native Valencia, he occupied administrative posts within the order, and won the esteem and friendship of St. Teresa of Avila. After a long and painful illness, he died at age 55.

During the process of his beatification, witnesses testified that shortly after his death a heavenly perfume arose from his body. Moreover, a light which glowed for several minutes proceeded from his mouth and illuminated his whole cell. And before his funeral, seraphic music was heard in the church.

The body of St. Louis Bertrand, which remained incorrupt for over 350 years, was maliciously destroyed during the Spanish Revolution of 1936. 

πŸ“‘ St. Catherine De Ricci (1522 - 1590)

St. Catherine de Ricci and St. Louis Bertrand were contemporaries. She left behind a patrician lineage to enter the Dominican convent at Prato, Italy, when she was 13. Born Alexandrina of Ricci, she was given the name Catherine at her profession, and with her new name, she embraced a life of severe penances, but one also distinguished by unusual mystical experiences. She endured many physical afflictions, which seemed to be aggravated by ordinary medical treatment.

During Holy Week of 1542, when Catherine was 20, she experienced the first of her ecstasies, in which she saw enacted, in sequence, the scenes of Our Lord’s passion. These ecstasies were repeated every week for twelve years. They began at midday every Thursday and ended on Friday at 4:00. On Easter Sunday of her twentieth year, Our Lord appeared to her, took a ring from His finger, and placed it on the forefinger of Catherine’s left hand as a symbol of their mystical espousal. She would also be given His stigmata and bore the wounds of Jesus in her hands, feet, side, and on her head, those of His crown of thorns.

Another mystical phenomenon attributed to Catherine were her conversations with St. Philip Neri while he was in Rome and she, in her convent at Prato. While they had exchanged a number of letters, they had never met, except through their mystical visits. Five reputable people testified that they had witnessed these meetings of the saints.

Even though it seems that Catherine’s life was preoccupied with the mystical, she also held positions of authority in her community. While still very young, she was selected as novice mistress and then sub-prioress. Later, at the age of 38, she was appointed prioress in perpetuity. She is said to have been happiest when working among the poor and sick of the city. After a lengthy illness, Catherine died on the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Mother, February 2, 1590, at age 68. She was canonized in 1747.

The Basilica of Prato possess the incorrupt remains of the saint who has been designated the patroness of the city. The darkened but still beautiful relic of St. Catherine lies in an ornate reliquary which is exposed for public veneration below the major altar of the basilica. 

πŸ“‘ St. Rose of Lima (1586 - 1617)

From childhood St. Rose undertook fasts, performed penances, and was favored with many visions and mystical experiences. Her parents prevented her from embracing the cloistered life, but she found consolation in the little hermitage which she had built in the garden of her home. At the age of 23, Rose joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, took St. Catherine of Siena as her patroness, and increased her fasts and mortifications. She worked to help her parents, yet set aside a room in her house where she helped destitute children and the elderly. Her prayers were credited with saving Lima from an invasion of pirates. But despite all this, she was once brought to the attention of the Inquisition.

St. Rose died on the day she had predicted, but it was impossible to hold her funeral for several days, owing to the crowds of mourners. Her body was buried in the cloister of St. Dominic’s Church where it was found entire, fresh, and fragrant eighteen months later. However, in 1630, thirteen years after her death, her body was found somewhat wasted and desiccated. 

The relics of the saint are now conserved in two locations. In the Dominican Church of Santa

Domingo, there is a special altar dedicated to the Peruvian saints, on which rest three golden chests containing the skulls of St. Rose and St. Martin de Porres, and the remains of Blessed John Macias.

The rest of her relics are kept a few blocks away in the small church which was built on the very grounds on which Rose lived. This basilica also houses many of the objects which the saint wore or used during life.

St. Rose was canonized by Clement X in 1671. She was promptly proclaimed the patroness of Peru, the Indies, the Philippines, and of all America.