Wednesday, June 14, 2023

The Miracle of Incorruptibility

 From Catholic Exchange:

In 1977, Joan Carroll Cruz wrote a thoroughly researched book on the incorruptible saints called The Incorruptibles. Before this, there had been no thorough treatment of the topic, though some general phenomena were described by Fr. Herbert Thurston in his 1952 book, The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism. There were also many simple references to incorruptibility in the Acta Sanctorum, the official account of the saints published by the Jesuits.

Cruz described her motivations for writing the book — to dis­pel false impressions and get at the truth of incorruptibility — in its preface:

In a number of European churches there can be found crystal reliquaries that contain reclining statues repre­senting particular Saints, the bones of the Saints be­ing enclosed in their stimulated figures. Because of the techniques employed in reproducing pictures of some of these models, the figures have been frequently mistaken for the actual bodies, producing errors such as that involv­ing St. Francis of Geronimo . . . and creating false rumors, as occurred with regard to St. Frances Cabrini, whose body was never found preserved.

Cruz worked with various shrines that host seemingly incorrupt bodies and found that, in many cases, the remains had been damaged or destroyed by fires, floods, or persecutors of the Church. It also turned out that, in many cases, the relics were not in the shrine, the city, or even the country where they were purported to be. Record keeping was usually subpar, and so inac­curacies about the number and perfection of incorruptibles had seeped into the Catholic consciousness.

This is not to say, however, that the entire concept has been disproved — far from it! Rather, it is a reminder that the Church continues to appeal to the very best science in the claims she makes about miracles, including correcting impressions that had been based on mistaken or out-of-date information. In many cases, Cruz does an excellent job of relating the story of past incorruptible saints that their orders provided to her. There are a number of incorruptible saints whose remains are still avail­able or were so well known over history that there is no doubt of their validity. (Read more.)

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