Saturday, July 29, 2006

Incorruptibles

In 117 A.D. St. Cecilia was martyred after refusing to sacrifice to false gods. She had been arrested for giving her husband and his brother a proper burial, both of whom were also arrested and killed for giving proper burial to other martyrs. Although Cecilia had vowed her virginity to God, her Roman parents went ahead and married her off to a guy named Valerian anyway. Of course, he wasn't too pleased to learn that his new wife wasn't going be-- interested. She told him that she was accompanied by an angel whom he could see only if he is baptized. Um, yeah... sounds like something a crazy Catholic would say, but he went along with it and probably crapped his pants when he returned from the baptism ceremony to find his wife and an angel praying together.

So needless to say, he probably gave up on trying to get some at this point. Instead, he asked the angel for a favor -- that his brother would be baptized, and eventually he was. They started a ministry of giving proper burial to martyrs (to think there was a whole ministry for such a thing!). During their own martyrdom, they even converted their executioner.

800 years later, her body was found incorrupt during the process of moving it from its original burial place to the altar in the basilica of St. Cecilia in Rome. And in 1599 her coffin was opened again and her incorrupted body found lying on her side like she was sleeping. Dating back to the first century of Christianity, her body is the oldest known Incorruptible. There are supposed to be over 200 other saints whose bodies suffer little decay. St. Bernadette might be on of the most impressive examples. Doctors reported that her veins were still visible, muscle tissue was firm, and her liver was basically in normal condition 46 years after her death.

...I'll admit, this stuff is a bit creepy, but that's exactly why it's so freakin' cool :) Even Wikipedia has an entry on Incorruptibles. And if it works, try reading the link to "Saints Preserve Us" from about.com since they address the phenomenon from a secular perspective, including the possibility of Buddhist and Hindu Incorruptibles.

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