I am not morbid nor do I have any habit of staring at corpses. Its just that whenever I see images of the incorrupt bodies of saints, it liberates me from the fear of death and reminds me that life after death is already eternal. This is one of the reasons why I research so much in this subject for this blog series because I want the world to know that the Glory of the Resurrection is something to look forward to. Something to hope for, something to expect that will happen and something that will motivate us to love God even more. But some bloggers and forum users in the internet are so obsessed with the incorruptibles that they never try to investigate whether the images that they see or the stories they heard were true or not. Some mistook images and figures as the actual incorruptibles.
Incorruptibles are classified as such if a saint’s body undergone a supernatural and unexplainable cause of incorruptibility at one point after their death without any kind of human or environmental intervention.
Saints are often times portrayed lying in there eternal sleep just like the image of Christ as “Santo Entiero” or the dead Christ in order to venerate and honor their entry into heaven. These images of saints (often in wax figures) representing their actual position during their death are often mistaken as the actual incorrupt bodies or mistaken as being an Incorruptible themselves.
Below are some of the saints mistaken as incorruptibles:
One of the most common saint mistaken as an Incorruptible, St. Sylvan / Silvan is an early Christian Martyr who was murdered in 350 AD by his enemies. His throat was slashed. This figure under the altar of Cathedral of Saint Blaise, Dubrovnik, Croatia is often mistaken as his body. The saint is not incorrupt and the statue is just a depiction of his death. His bones otherwise is interred beneath the statue.
Pope John XIII, now Blessed was found incorrupt when his body was exhumed. But the Vatican dismissed it as a miracle and ascribed the incorruptibility to science. Blessed John XXIII’s body was embalmed when he died and his remains where placed in three layers of coffin; one is made of zinc and the other is made up of lead, which contributed to the air tight condition of the corpse thus being preserved throughout the years it was buried.
Padre Pio, a Capuchin Monk who died in 1968 had similar treatment. Padre Pio’s body was embalmed and was buried under a three tons slab which took a crane for it to be sealed. When his body was exhumed in 2008, Vatican officials found that the back part of his head was already in skeletal form and the face is fairly decomposing except for the body and the limbs. In order that the face would be presentable and recognizable, a silicone mask was applied in the face.
St. Luoise de Marillac, the co-founder of the Daughters of Charity and one of the spiritual children of St. Vincent De Paul was also not incorrupt when her body was exhumed. In fact, inside this wax figure is the Saint’s bones. Many mistook her as an incorruptible because her remains within the wax figure are displayed in the same chapel in the Motherhouse of the Daughters of Charity in Rue Du Bac where the actual incorrupt Heart of St. Vincent De Paul and incorrupt body of St. Catherine Laboure (Visionary of the Apparition of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal) also lies
St. Therese of Liseux a.k.a. the Little Flower was also considered by many as incorrupt but actually she is not even though she belongs to the category of Virgins in the canons of the saints. In fact, her bones are placed in a reliquary and has travelled all over the world and venerated by thousands of faithful. This image of hers in the Liseux Carmel Chapel is just a wax image, an exact replica and position during her death.
I will update this list from time to time.
Romuald Matthieson: a.k.a. "bluepanjeet" has been writing in cyber space since 2005. In 2006, he jump-started his Catholic blogging a few years before the Catholic Church utilized social networks and blogs in spreading the Gospel. In 2007, in response to a realization of the growing need for Catholic Bloggers online, he officially launched his own self-hosted Catholic blog and called it "On The Wings Of My Dream" or simply OTWOMD which is a metaphor of his favorite psalm in the Bible, Psalm 63. Since then he has been blogging, (and sometimes podcasting) for the Catholic Church using his enthusiasm in the New Media, his inclination on visual and digital arts, his passion for the written word and his love for the Catholic Church. You can follow Rom's tweets on Twitter @rommatthieson