Incorruptibility is a Roman Catholic belief that supernatural intervention allows some human bodies to avoid the normal process of decomposition after death. Bodies that reportedly undergo little or no decomposition, or delayed decomposition, and are sometimes referred to as incorrupt or incorruptible or as an incorruptible. Although it is recognised as supernatural in Roman Catholicism, it is no longer counted as a miracle in the recognition of a saint.
Incorruptibility is seen as distinct from the good preservation of a body, or mummification. Incorruptible bodies are often said to have the odour of sanctity, exuding a sweet or floral, pleasant aroma. As of yet, none of these cases has been verified scientifically.
Incorruptibles are the bodies of saints that miraculously do not decay -- even after decades or even a century or more. The bodies often lie in public view in churches and shrines. Saints include: St. Clare of Assisi, St. Vincent De Paul, St. Bernadette Soubirous, St. John Bosco, Blessed Imelda Lambertini, St. Catherine Labouré, and many others. Even the body of Pope John XXIII is reputed to be remarkable well preserved. The case of Blessed Margaret of Metola is recounted in the Fortean Times article, Saints Preserve Us: "She died in 1330, but in 1558 her remains had to be transferred because her coffin was rotting away. Witnesses were amazed to find that like the coffin, the clothes had rotted, but Margaret's crippled body hadn't."
1. Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, Died 1879
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.
2. Saint John Vianney, Died 1859
St. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney (May 8, 1786 – August 4, 1859) was a French parish priest who became a Catholic saint and the patron saint of parish priests. He is often referred to, even in English, as the “Curé d’Ars” (the parish priest of the village of Ars). He became famous internationally for his priestly and pastoral work in his parish due to the radical spiritual transformation of the community and its surroundings.
3. Saint Teresa Margaret, Died 1770
In March 19, 1934, Pope Pius XI entered Blessed Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart in the register of saints. In Germany, the new saint is virtually unknown outside of the Carmelite Order. Her life was quiet and hidden. She died on March 7, 1770 at the age of 22, and of this short lifespan, she spent five years in the Carmelite monastery in Florence. She performed no brilliant, attention-getting deeds, nor did her reputation reach the wider world. She spent her life living quietly and with virtue.
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