Author Topic: The Incorruptibles  (Read 4605 times)

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Offline Athanasios

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The Incorruptibles
« on: April 25, 2010, 06:20:46 PM »
In the first millenium Church (before the Schism) there were numerous Saints who were preserved from bodily corruption even after death. For instance, Saints Agatha and Cecilia were both preserved (i.e., still look alive) even centuries after their deaths. We in the Catholic Church call these Saints the Incorruptibles.

My question is: are there any examples of such incorruptible Saints in the post-schism Orthodox Church?
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Offline Cymbyz

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2010, 10:51:56 PM »
Yes:  St. Dionysios of Zakinthos, St. Gerasimos of Kefallonia, St. Nectarios of Pentapolis (20 years), St. John Maximovich of Shanghai & San Francisco--just to name four off the top of my head.
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Offline Andrew21091

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2010, 11:15:04 PM »
St. Alexander of Svir

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2010, 11:29:58 PM »
I hope this doesn't sound impious, but how exactly do they find out that a saint is incorrupt? I mean, what do they do, dig up the bodies of saints and open their coffins oce they officially become a saint?

Offline stashko

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2010, 12:23:43 AM »
Curious !I thought the catholics  put a wax face over their so called incorruptibies to make them look uncorrupted..... ???
ГОСПОДЕ ГОСПОДЕ ,ПОГЛЕДАЈ СА НЕБА ,ДОЂИ И ПОСЕТИ ТВОЈ ВИНОГРАД ТВОЈА ДЕСНИЦА ПОСАДИЛА АМИН АМИН.

Offline Papist

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2010, 09:35:10 AM »
Curious !I thought the catholics  put a wax face over their so called incorruptibies to make them look uncorrupted..... ???
We actually have true incorruptibles just like you do.
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Offline Alpo

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2010, 11:11:39 AM »
Even Lutherans have one or at least I've never heard any other than this one. According to legend Fr. Nikolaus Rungius i.e. a Finnish Lutheran priest from 17th century said that if he's words are incorrect he's body will rot but if he's words are correct he's body won't rot. Apparently he was correct since he's body can still be seen in church of St. Michael in Keminmaa, Finland.

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« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 11:12:40 AM by Alpo »

Offline Athanasios

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2010, 11:39:19 AM »
I hope this doesn't sound impious, but how exactly do they find out that a saint is incorrupt? I mean, what do they do, dig up the bodies of saints and open their coffins oce they officially become a saint?

That's a reasonable enough question.

The answer is that early on (say in the first millenium), often when the relics were transferred, it was then discovered that the body had remained incorrupt. Also, sometimes it was meant that a tomb or such was to be reused (a common practice, which is way it was noted that Christ was laid in a new tomb), and when they came back thinking the body should be well decayed and dust found it still incorrupt.

In later years, in the Catholic Church, during the process of canonization the bodies will be exhumed so that the relics may be identified and taken possession of and it will be then that the body is discovered incorrupt.
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Offline Athanasios

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2010, 11:39:38 AM »
Curious !I thought the catholics  put a wax face over their so called incorruptibies to make them look uncorrupted..... ???

What would make you think such a thing?
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2010, 11:56:29 AM »
I hope this doesn't sound impious, but how exactly do they find out that a saint is incorrupt? I mean, what do they do, dig up the bodies of saints and open their coffins oce they officially become a saint?

That's a reasonable enough question.

The answer is that early on (say in the first millenium), often when the relics were transferred, it was then discovered that the body had remained incorrupt. Also, sometimes it was meant that a tomb or such was to be reused (a common practice, which is way it was noted that Christ was laid in a new tomb), and when they came back thinking the body should be well decayed and dust found it still incorrupt.

In later years, in the Catholic Church, during the process of canonization the bodies will be exhumed so that the relics may be identified and taken possession of and it will be then that the body is discovered incorrupt.

Ahh, ok, that makes sense, thanks :)

Offline Andrew21091

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2010, 12:08:33 PM »
Curious !I thought the catholics  put a wax face over their so called incorruptibies to make them look uncorrupted..... ???

What would make you think such a thing?

This is true for a few of them. I think they put the coverings over it to protect the relics I'm sure or maybe other reasons. I know this is such for John Vianney, Pio of Pietrelcina, Bernadette of Lourdes, and some others.

Offline Athanasios

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2010, 12:23:29 PM »
Curious !I thought the catholics  put a wax face over their so called incorruptibies to make them look uncorrupted..... ???

What would make you think such a thing?

This is true for a few of them. I think they put the coverings over it to protect the relics I'm sure or maybe other reasons. I know this is such for John Vianney, Pio of Pietrelcina, Bernadette of Lourdes, and some others.

I wasn't aware that Saint Pio was acknowledged as an incorruptible.

As for the other two, this seems to be a French thing to hide discolored skin (not decayed, just discolored). Silly French.  :P
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Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2010, 01:06:12 PM »
« Last Edit: April 26, 2010, 01:06:57 PM by Alveus Lacuna »

Offline Altar Server

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2010, 07:03:06 PM »
^who is that ?
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Offline stashko

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2010, 07:05:53 PM »
Curious !I thought the catholics  put a wax face over their so called incorruptibies to make them look uncorrupted..... ???

What would make you think such a thing?

It was mentioned once before ,some where on this forum.....
ГОСПОДЕ ГОСПОДЕ ,ПОГЛЕДАЈ СА НЕБА ,ДОЂИ И ПОСЕТИ ТВОЈ ВИНОГРАД ТВОЈА ДЕСНИЦА ПОСАДИЛА АМИН АМИН.

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2010, 07:06:23 PM »
^who is that ?

The Roman Catholic saint, Virginia Centurione Bracelli (†1651). I only know because I googled the name of the pic.

Offline Altar Server

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2010, 07:12:26 PM »
^thanks  ;D
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Offline Papist

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2010, 09:15:32 PM »

So is the deal that she is dehydrated but not decomposed?
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2010, 09:43:09 PM »
I hope this doesn't sound impious, but how exactly do they find out that a saint is incorrupt? I mean, what do they do, dig up the bodies of saints and open their coffins oce they officially become a saint?

If it's like my mother's village in Greece:

Below-ground grave space is rare in SW Greece.  The clay makes it difficult to dig, and the bodies do not decompose very quickly.  Instead of 6' deep burial, there are family sarcophagi - each name is engraved on the rather large headstone, and after 3-4 years the grave is opened, the bones are removed and washed, placed into a reliquary box, and moved to a reliquary hut in the corner of the cemetery, with the grave then cleaned and prepared for its next inhabitant.  In this context (which is also practiced by monks, etc.) it would be easy to discover if someone is incorrupt - since everyone is dug up at some point, your body would be discovered eventually.
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Offline lubeltri

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #19 on: April 27, 2010, 05:48:51 PM »
I would add that incorruptibility is not a required or even common feature of saints' relics.

Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman (d. 1890) will be made a Blessed (one step below canonization) by Pope Benedict in England this fall, and in preparation for this, they exhumed his body. But there was no body left in the grave---it had totally decomposed.

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #20 on: April 27, 2010, 07:51:22 PM »
Christ is Risen!
   I followed Cardinal Newman's cause before I left the RCC and he is of great intrest to me
      That being said I have a question...will he not then have any relics...and is that commonplace?
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Offline lubeltri

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #21 on: April 28, 2010, 12:04:58 PM »
He was buried in a wood coffin in wet ground (England's Midlands is a very lush, wet place)--it should come as little surprise that his body went back into the earth.

As for relics, there are plenty of first-class relics like locks of his hair, etc.

As a devotee of Newman, I hope to be there in the fall and see the Pope beatify him! Upon his eventual canonization, I have no doubt that he will be made a Doctor of the [Catholic] Church.

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #22 on: April 28, 2010, 12:10:32 PM »


As a devotee of Newman, I hope to be there in the fall and see the Pope beatify him! Upon his eventual canonization, I have no doubt that he will be made a Doctor of the [Catholic] Church.
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Offline Altar Server

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #23 on: April 28, 2010, 04:53:47 PM »
I truly hope that he will for the sake of the (Catholic) Church I think it would do (them) alot of good
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Offline lubeltri

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #24 on: April 28, 2010, 05:03:26 PM »
Oh, he most certainly will. He will be doing it as part of his official visit to Britain in September.

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2010, 05:07:23 PM »
Yes I know this... I mean I hope his is made a doctor in the RCC
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Offline MarkosC

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Re: The Incorruptibles
« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2010, 05:44:47 PM »
A few random points related to this thread:

- Fr. George is correct about Greek practice.   

- Wax face masks, were sometimes put on both incorrupt and regularly decayed corpses in some parts of Western Europe.  Sometimes I believe this was just standard practice in the era when the saint died.   

- VERY few saints are incorrupt.  I've been to a few famous Latin churches in major European cities (e.g. Rome, Prague) and visited the shrines of at least 100 Latin saints.  Even though many churches will have 1 or more sets of basically full relics in the church, none of the ones I "visited" in this way were claimed to be incorrupt.   

- finally, there is a universally acknowledged saint who has an incorrupt ear and is currently in Orthodox hands: St. John Chrysostom.  His incorrupt left ear is at the Monastery of Vatopedi on Mount Athos, as well as the skull of St. Gregory the Theologian and the girdle of the Mother of God.  I've seen it - it's an ordinary ear, discolored by time but still most certainly an ear - unlike the ears of say natural mummies which are tiny or nonexistent. You can probably find it on Google images.  [for what it's worth, another incorrupt part of his skull I believe is in Russia, and recently visited the US]   

The monks bring the relics out for the veneration of pilgrims each day, I believe, and the trip is WELL worth it - beyond the relics, the icons are among the best around, and the chanting is just like on their CDs (i.e. among the best examples of Byzantine chant available).  And who knows, one (or all?) of the saints whose relics are there cured me of a minor pain that had afflicted me that day.....  :)
O Lord although I desired to blot out
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And for the rest of my life to please Thee
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Yet doth the enemy lead me astray as he wareth
against my sould with his cunning

O Lord before I utterly perish do Thou save me!