Author Topic: Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.  (Read 799 times)

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Offline Tikhon.of.Colorado

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Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.
« on: March 24, 2011, 12:25:24 AM »
(please forgive this offly grim question I put before you!)

Hello, All. 

today I was watching a documentary about how in the UK they have to exume graves that are hundreds of years old to make room for new ones.  they put the very old remains into little plastic bags, and haul the caskets (what's left of them) to be burned.  they then bury the remains in mass graves, outting cerial numbers on the baggies to identify the name and anything they know about them. 

this freaked me out.  in the Orthodox Church, we venerate the body as a relic.  does the Church have some sort of ceremony for the exhumation of a body?  what the people in the documentary did seems so dis respectful. 

Offline FrChris

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Re: Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2011, 12:39:18 AM »
There are some prayers for an exhumation, which I had to offer on one occasion (a parishioner had been buried in the wrong grave and she had to be moved to the correct one).

However, I don't remember what the rite was.

Just out of curiosity...

Quote
Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.

How many live human corpses have you come across?
« Last Edit: March 24, 2011, 08:45:41 AM by FrChris »
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Offline Tikhon.of.Colorado

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Re: Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2011, 12:40:41 AM »
There are some prayers for an exhumation, which I had to offer on one occasion (a parishioner had been buried in the wrong grave and she had to be moved to the correct one).

However, I don't remember what the rite was.

Just of of curiosity...

Quote
Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.

How many live human corpses have you come across?
less than can be counted on two hands  :D ;D

Offline Ansgar

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Re: Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2011, 02:41:44 AM »
This reminds me of something pretty similar in my country.
In a part of the Tivoli in Copenhagen they have made an "educational" facility named bodies. Here families can come and see the corpses of some chinese people who have dedicated their bodies to "science". The have been preserved so that they do not rotten.
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Offline Quinault

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Re: Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2011, 02:52:58 AM »
There is absolutely no proof that the people that are on display actually volunteered to be in the Bodies exhibit. There is a good possibility that they are all executed prisoners.

Offline Ansgar

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Re: Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2011, 07:49:04 AM »
To Quinault:
I am not sure I understand. If you are suggesting that the bodies are of executed prisoners I can tell you that it is very unlikely. But we can agree that it is disgusting to exhibit corpses for entertainment.
Do not be cast down over the struggle - the Lord loves a brave warrior. The Lord loves the soul that is valiant.

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Offline Trevorthodox

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Re: Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2011, 09:42:53 AM »
I've never heard of this practice in my country, the UK. Was it a church or a state graveyard that did this?

I believe that in Spain and other hispanic countries, bodies are not buried underground, but stacked in niches like an apartment block of coffins. Grave space is rented for a fee, and if the fee is not paid the body is thrown into an ossuary.

If you think this is peculiar check out the Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedlec_Ossuary

Offline maryofegypt

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Re: Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2011, 10:05:04 AM »
Well...I know that in the large monasteries in the old countries, they often exhume the monks' bodies and put all the bones in a separate chamber (ossuary).  There simply isn't enough land to keep all those bodies buried separately for centuries. I think they inscribe the names on the skulls.  In fact, there was an article in The Orthodox Word a couple of years ago about miraculous relics that were found when they were moving all the bones from one ossuary to another in Greece.  They discovered nine skulls that were streaming myrrh.

That being said, what you described (baggies) sounds a bit more offensive and grim, to me anyway. 

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Orthodoxy and respect for a dead human corpse.
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2011, 04:31:28 PM »
Well...I know that in the large monasteries in the old countries, they often exhume the monks' bodies and put all the bones in a separate chamber (ossuary).  There simply isn't enough land to keep all those bodies buried separately for centuries. I think they inscribe the names on the skulls.  In fact, there was an article in The Orthodox Word a couple of years ago about miraculous relics that were found when they were moving all the bones from one ossuary to another in Greece.  They discovered nine skulls that were streaming myrrh.

That being said, what you described (baggies) sounds a bit more offensive and grim, to me anyway. 

This. If you've seen the new film, The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer (and I do recommend it!) Fr. John McGucken and his film crew at one point visit a monastery, I think in Romania, that has this issue. When a monk dies, they exhume  the oldest and place it in an ossuary, open, with the other exhumed monks. It's literally just a pile of bones.

Some of them are myrrh-streaming. Those are kept in a separate room in their own jars to collect the myrrh. Over time, the myrrh turns the skull a rich brown and eventually black.
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