Certain Saints, at the time of
their death or many years later after they were exhumed, were found to be
incorruptable. That is to say, their bodies did not decompose. There are more
than 250 incorrupt bodies of Catholic saints.
Icon of Saint Clare courtesy of
Saint Agatha - Her body was
discovered incorrupt in the eleventh century. Parts of her incorrupt body are
still in existence today.
According to variations of her legend, having rejected the
amorous advances of a Roman prefect, she was persecuted by him for her Christian
faith. Among the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts. She
is therefore often depicted iconographically carrying her excised breasts on a
The shape of her amputated breasts gave rise to her attribute as patron saint of
bell-founders. More recently she is venerated as patron saint of breast cancer
Her scorned admirer eventually sentenced her to death by being burnt at the
stake. However, she was saved from this fate by a mysterious earthquake. She
later died in prison. Name Meaning good
Saint Agatha (Unknown - 251 A.D.)
Saint Catherine Laboure died on
31st December 1876. When her body was exhumed 56 years later it was unblemished.
Her eyes were as blue as the day she died. Catherine Laboure is still lying in
state at the right of the altar in the chapel Rue du Bac 140, in Paris and she
still looks as though she only died yesterday!
Saint Catherine Laboure (1806 - 1876)
The body of Saint Bernadette Soubirous
was first exhumed 30 years after her death. On September 2, 1909. Her arms and
face were completly unaffected from corruption and had maintained their natural
skin tone. The second exhumation took place at the end of the Process on April
3, 1919. The body of the Venerable was found in the same state of preservation
as 10 years earlier. This sacred relic was placed in a coffin of gold and glass
and can be viewed in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the motherhouse in Nevers
Saint Bernadette Soubirous (1844 - 1879)
Saint Cecilia - The year of her birth is
unknown. She died about 177 A.D. at Rome and her body was discovered incorrupt
in 1599, is known to be the first saint to be incorrupt. Virgin and martyr,
patroness of church music.
The statue is a copy of the famous work by Stefano Maderno (1566-1636),
carried out in 1599, when there took place the recognition of her relics. The
body was found in the position represented by the sculptor.
Saint Cecilia (Unknown - 177 A.D.)
Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions
To all musicians, appear and inspire:
Translated Daughter, come down and startle
Composing mortals with immortal fire.
The tomb of Saint Clare of Assisi was found in
1850. On 23 September in that year the coffin was unearthed and opened, the
flesh and clothing of the saint had been reduced to dust, but the skeleton was
in a perfect state of preservation. Finally, on the 29th of September, 1872, the
saint's bones were transferred, with much pomp, by Archbishop Pecci, afterwards
Leo XIII, to the shrine, in the crypt at Santa Chiara, erected to receive them,
and where they may now be seen.
Saint Clare of Assisi (1194 - 1253)
The body of Saint Maria Goretti is
interred in the church of Our Lady of Mercy in Nettuno (Italy). Her incorrupt
body is there and she is absolutely beautiful.
Saint Maria Goretti (1890 - 1902)
Saint Etheldreda (also known as
Audrey, ∆thelthryth, Ethelreda, Edilthride, Ediltrudis, Edeltrude)
Queen of South Gyrwe, Queen of Northumbria, Abbess of Ely
Born: AD 630 at Exning, Suffolk - Died: 23rd June AD 679 at Ely Abbey,
She was the daughter of King Anna of East Anglia and Queen
Hereswide of England.
17 years after her death her body was found to be incorrupt.
The linen cloths in which her body was wrapped were as fresh as the day she had
been buried. Her body was placed in a stone sarcophagus of Roman origin, found
at Grantchester and reburied.
At the Reformation, all their shrines were destroyed and the incorrupt body
parts dispersed. When her shrine at Ely Cathedral was destroyed, the saintly
Queen Etheldreda’s hand was preserved by a devout Catholic family. The still
incorrupt hand was enshrined, some 400 years later, when a little Catholic
Church was re-established in Ely. An apocryphal story relates how the present
Queen, on a tour of the cathedral, met the crusty Irish priest of the little
Catholic Church. She asked him if it wouldn’t be a ‘nice gesture’ to return the
hand of St Etheldreda to the cathedral; he replied that it would be a nice
gesture for her to return the cathedral to the Catholic church.
Saint Etheldreda (630 - 679)
St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney (Cure' of Ars) -
Died in 1859 and was exhumed and found incorrupt in 1904. His body is on display
above the main altar in the Basilica at Ars in France.
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.
Saint John Vianney (1786 1859)
Rita of Cascia died on May 22, 1457. The incorrupt
body of this “patron saint of hopeless cases” can be seen at the Basilica of St
Rita in Cascia, Italy. It is also publicly known that her body has been seen in
different positions in the glass case, as well as eyes have opened and closed
unaided. Her symbol is the rose petal, which she shares with St Therese of
Lisieux.Rita was beatified by pope Urban VIII in 1627 and canonized on May 24,
1900 by Pope Leo XIII.
of Cascia (1381 - 1457)
Saint Catherine of Bologna (1413-1463) - Also
known as Catherine de Virgi. Feastday: March 9 - Patroness of Artist.
In Lent of 1463, Catherine became seriously ill, and she died on March 9. Buried
without a coffin, her body was exhumed eighteen days later because of cures
attributed to her and also because of the sweet scent coming from her grave.
Her body is later enshrined in the chapel of the Poor Clares at Bologna. The
flesh has grown dark, but that may well have been because of the heat and soot
of the candles that were burned for years around her exposed remains. In that
shrine, her body is not recumbent but seated! This was in response, it is said,
to a request she made of one of her sisters to whom she appeared in a vision in
1500. She was canonized in 1712 by Pope Benedict XIII.
Saint Catherine of Bologna (1413 - 1463)
Saint Francis Xavier; also
known as Apostle to the Far East, was born as Francisco de Jasso y Azpilcueta,
on April 7th, 1506 in the Castle of Xavier at Javier, near Sanguesa, in Navarre
His dream was evangelizing China, but this was never realized. He fell ill of a
fever within te sight of Canton. They brought him to the island of Sancian,
where he died after 2 weeks, on December 2, 1552, at age 46, without having
reached mainland China. He was buried in Sancian island in a wooden coffin as
they used to do in China.
On December 11, 1553, Xavier's body was shipped to Goa. Two layers of quicklime
were added in order to accelerate the process of corruption, which would
facilitate the transference of his bones. Two and a half months later, the
coffin was unearthed. To the surprise of all present, after the lime had been
removed, they found the body totally incorrupt, as if it were still alive. And a
sweet fragrance is said to have issued from the coffin. After replacing the
lime, the coffin was sailed to Malacca. On arrival it was opened and the body
was still found to have the freshness of a living person. The body was then
buried this time without a coffin.
The body, having resisted extensive decay, is now in the Basilica of Bom Jťsus
in Goa, where it was placed in a glass container encased in a silver casket on
December 2, 1637. Francis Xavier was beatified 25 October 1619 by Pope Paul V
and canonized 12 March 1622 by Pope Gregory XV.
His memorial is: 3 December
Saint Francis Xavier (1506-1552)
Blessed Margaret of Castello;
also known as: Margaret of Citta-di-Castello; Margaret of Metola.
She died on April 13, 1320 at the age of 33. When she died, the townspeople
thronged to her funeral and demanded that “the saint” be buried in a tomb inside
the church. The priest protested, but when a crippled girl was miraculously
cured at the funeral, the people had their way. More than 200 miracles have been
credited to her intercession after her death.
In 1558, her remains were transferred because her coffin was rotten. Her clothes
were also rotten, but her body was preserved. She was beatified on October 19,
1609 by Pope Paul V and awaits canonization as a Saint. Thus the daughter that
nobody wanted is one of the glories of the Church. God has given to us an
illustration of how handicapped persons fit in with His eternal plan. Take
courage, then, you who are handicapped. God loves you doubly! Till today the
body of Blessed Margaret is still incorrupt.
For the whole story, please see:
With thanks to the webmaster of the Webpage "Avť Maria", for
his permission to use two pictures. Please see his page:
Blessed Margaret of
Castello (1287 - 1320)
Teresa of Avila;
also known as: Theresa of Avila; The Roving Nun; Teresa de
Teresa of Avila was born as Teresa Ali Fatim Corella Sanchez
de Capeda y Ahumada in Avila, Spain, on March 28, 1515. She was a daughter of
Don Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda, a son of a Toledan merchant, and DoŮa Beatriz
Davila y Ahumada, originally from Tordesillas.
She died in 1582. Her body was exhumed several times after her death, and each
time found sweet-smelling, firm, and incorrupt. Her heart, hands, right foot,
right arm, left eye and part of her jaw are on display in various sites around
Saint Teresa of Avila (1515
Saint Catherine of SiŽna;
also known as Catharine of Siena - Memorial: 29 April; (formerly 30
Catherine died on April 29th in 1380 of a mysterious and
painful illness that came on without notice, and was never properly diagnosed.
She was Thirty-three years old. About fifty years after she died, her body was
found to be incorrupt. Pope Pius II canonized Catherine in 1461. Her feast day
is 29 April. In 1866 she became co-patron saint of Rome. Since 1939 she is the
patron saint of Italy together with Francis of Assisi. Of all the spiritual
stars, Catherine of Siena is one of the very greatest. Catherine is the only
woman other than Saint Teresa of Avila, who was declared a Doctor of the Church
on October 4, 1970 by pope Paul VI. Further she got the title
co-patronship of Europe by John Paul II in 1999.
Saint Catherine of SiŽna (1347 -
Saint John of God; also known as: Juan de Dios
(Spanish); Jo„o de Deus (Portuguese)
Saint John of God was born Juan Ciudad on March 8th, 1495 at Montemoro Novo,
Evora, Portugal, of poor but very devout Christian parents. At the age of eight
he left home and worked as a shepherd for a farmer, who was very pleased with
him. John had an offer to marry the farmer's daughter and become heir to the
property; but he refused because he wanted to pursue a spiritual life.
Before he died died on 8 March 1550 at Granada, Spain, his selfless
dedication to the sick brought him to be known as "John of God". By faithfully
following his example, the Order of Brothers formed after the death of St.John
of God has passed on John's way of serving for those in need. It is called
"Hospitality" and after five centuries it remains the charism of the Hospitaller
Order of St. John of God.
In 1570 the fragrant body of the Saint was found entire, except for the tip
of the nose. The relics are kept in a chest of beautiful wood in the Basilica of
Saint John of God in Granada.
Saint John of God (1495 - 1550)
Saint Rose of Lima was born on April 20, 1586 at
Lima, Peru, of a Spaniard, Gaspar de Flores, and Maria d'Olivia, as one of ten
children. She received from baptisim the name of Isabel Flores de Oliva. At
three months old Isabella was in her cradle as her mother and several other
women were sitting around it there suddenly appeared in the air a beautiful
rose; which gently touched the face of the baby and then vanished; and from that
day on Maria called her Rose. Despite her family’s attempt to have her marry,
Rose took a vow of virginity.
She began to tell of visions, revelations, visitations and voices as they
deplored her penitential practices more than ever. She took the name of Rose at
her confirmation in 1597. She received Holy Communion daily, and was conferred
the habit of the third order of Saint Dominic in 1606, at the age of 20. Rose
increased the already extreme penances. She helped the sick and hungry around
her community. She would bring them to her home and take care of them.
She died August 25, 1617 at the age of 31. As she had requested, her body was
burried in the cloister of St. Dominic's church, where it was found in 1630 in a
very good condition. The relics of the Saint are now conserved in two locations;
in the Dominican Church of Santo Domingo. The rest of her relics are kept in the
neighbourhoud in a small church, which was built on the ground where Rose lived.
Many miracles followed her death. Each year the devout make a pilgrimage to the
chapel in Santa Rosa de Quives where she lived and worshipped. Saint Rose of
Lima was beatified April, 15, 1668 by Pope Clement IX and canonized April 2,
1671 by Pope Clement X. She is represented wearing a crown of roses.
Saint Rose of Lima (1586 - 1617)
Feastday: September 23
was born in Pietralcina, Italy, on May 25, 1887. The 4th child of Grazio Maria
Forgione and Maria Giuseppa De Nunzio, he was given the name Francesco, after a
brother who died shortly after birth.
From the time he was very young, it was his desire to join the Monks at the
Monastery who "wore the beard". His dream to join the Catholic Capuchin Order of
Friars Minor was realized in 1903 when he was admitted at the Friary of Morcone
in the Province of Foggia. In 1916, struggling with ill health, he transferred
to the Friary of Our Lady of Grace in San Giovanni Rotondo and there he
This humble Capuchin Priest from San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, was blessed by God in many wonderful and mysterious
ways. He became famous for his stigmata.
Early in the morning of September 23, 1968, Padre
Pio made his last confession and renewed his Franciscan vows. As was customary,
he had his rosary in his hands, though he did not have the strength to say the
Hail Marys aloud. Till the end, he repeated the words "Gesý, Maria" (Jesus,
Mary). At around 2:30am, he said, "I see two mothers" (taken to mean his mother
and Mary). At 2:30 a.m. he breathed his last in his cell in San Giovanni Rotondo
with his last breath whispering, "Maria!"
Pio, which is purported to be incorrupt. The
body was exhumed in early March 2008 and since its exhumation has been viewed by
over 7.000 pilgrims a day. As we can see from these shots, the body is obviously
in a remarkable state of preservation. Take a look:
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina (1887 - 1968)
Feastday: January 5
John Nepomucene Neumann, C.Ss.R. (Czech: Jan Nepomuckż Neumann, German:
Johannes Nepomuk Neumann; 28 March 1811 – 5 January 1860), was a native of
Bohemia who emigrated to the United States, where he became a Catholic priest,
Redemptorist and the fourth Bishop of Philadelphia (1852–60). He is the first
American bishop (and thus far the only male citizen) to be canonized. While
Bishop of Philadelphia, Neumann founded the first Catholic diocesan school
system in the United States.