Apr 5, 2019
The miracle of the incorruption of the body of saints is almost always accompanied by unusual and inexplicable phenomena, which appear as a further sign of God’s direct intervention. As Giuseppe Fallica explains in “The miracle of incorrupt bodies” (Segno editions), they can be divided into twelve categories.
1) THE SMELL OF HOLINESS
The most frequent phenomenon is that of a very sweet preternatural fragrance, perceptible in the vicinity of the body of the deceased, and which sometimes lasts for months or even years.
Here it is sufficient to mention the case of Sant’Alberto Magno (d. In 1280), fragrant 200 years after his death; that of the Blessed Angelo da Sansepolcro (m. in 1306), very fragrant after 176 years; that of Santa Teresa d’Avila (m. in 1582), after 330 years, or even that of Santa Rita da Cascia (m. in 1447), still fragrant today.
The main objection of the critics is that it can be an odor produced by balms that were used to preserve the body. However, several elements concur to deny this hypothesis.
First of all, the testimonial evidence that, in addition to excluding the use of conservative substances, shows that perfume usually begins immediately after death (for example San Vincenzo Pallotti, Beata Giuseppa di Sant’Agnese, etc.).
Secondly, the circumstances of death or burial, which make it possible to exclude the application of balms. For example, the saint of York, England, Santa Margherita Clitherow Middleton, martyr, was sentenced to death by the Protestants, lying on the ground tied with hands and feet to pegs. Then a sharp stone was placed under the back and on the body a wooden door on which large weights were piled up to crush her mortally. Martyrdom lasted for about fifteen minutes, then the body was thrown into a pit of putrid and muddy water. For six weeks his body was searched, until fresh, pure and fragrant was found uncorrupted again. Blessed Bernardo Scammacca, on the other hand, was thrown into a mass grave, and when the tomb was opened to transfer it to a more dignified place, his body was incorrupt and released an intoxicating odor.
Thirdly, the necroscopic reconnaissance of the bodies, during which the application of treatments was never found (for example, Servant of God Maria Margherita Wake, San Gaspare Del Bufalo, etc.).
Moreover, in some cases the miracle is not limited to the body. The aroma on the body of Saint Lucia from Narni (d. In 1544) was transmitted to all the objects with which the relic came into contact during his exposition. In the case of St. Vincent Pallotti (d. In 1850), the perfume exhaled by the corpse persisted for a month in the room where he had died, despite the open window.
2) THE PERMANENT FLEXIBILITY OF THE MEMBERS
After the good smell, the absence of cadaverous rigidity is the most frequently observed phenomenon in the bodies of people who are dead in the name of holiness.
At the death of Blessed Maria della Passione (1912), for example, her doctor testified: “Despite the season it was very hot, having been on the 27th, 28th, and 29th of July, in southern Italy, in a very small Church and with a large number of people , yet the body still very flexible, and although mistreated by the constant touching of people who approached, to everyone’s amazement, remained always incorrupt and without passing on the slightest odor; indeed it was observed that the face became more and more beautiful and profiled “(L. Fontana)
3) THE EFFECT OF BLOOD BLOOD
The flow of fresh blood in holy bodies, even after an interval of weeks, months, or even years, is a fairly recurrent phenomenon in cases of incorruption, although less common than the odor of sanctity and the absence of rigor .
Among the many episodes that can be mentioned, we recall the flow of fresh blood from the nostrils of Saint Catherine of Bologna (m. In 1463) three months after her departure; the payment generated by the amputation of a finger in the body of San Giovanni della Croce (m. in 1591), nine months after his death; the outpouring of blood from the nose that occurred on the twenty-fourth day of exposure of the body of San Bernardino da Siena (m. in 1444).
4) THE EXUDATION OF FLUIDS
Another typical event is the exudation of particular fluids, described (as appropriate) as vegetable oil, liqueur, ointment, manna, perfume or water; and able to work miraculous healings.
For example on San Gerardo Maiella (m. In 1756 and buried in Materdomini, Avellino), a century after his death the ecclesiastical authorities ordered a reconnaissance of the relics. At the opening of the tomb it was discovered that a fragrant oil gushed copiously from the skull and the bones.
In Toledo, Spain, the body of the Blessed Mary of Jesus (d. In 1640) still exudes a perfume (described as the aroma of roses and jasmine), together with an oily manna.
The phenomenon is absolutely inexplicable for science, which has not been able to identify similar cases of exudation, either on artificially preserved bodies, or on those preserved from natural causes. Naturally it is to be discarded at the outset the naive thesis that it can be a balm used for the preservation of bodies: how to explain, in fact, the quantity and duration of these secretions (even hundreds of years), their periodic frequency, or the fact that to exude they are simple bones or a tombstone?
5) HEAT MAINTENANCE
Less frequent, but reported by trustworthy witnesses, is the persistence of heat for a long time after death; sometimes with a remarkably high temperature.
In the case of the Servant of God Maria Villani (m. In 1670), the surgeon who performed (nine hours after death) the operation for the extraction of the heart, had difficulty introducing the hand into the abdominal cavities, so strong was the heat. The same phenomenon was found with the Venerable Serafina di Dio (m. In 1699), thirty hours after passing away.
According to science, it is possible that putrefactive phenomena can lead to the return of a certain temperature, but the hypothesis is not applicable to incorrupts, since (in their case) the heat was accompanied by the finding of fresh organs, absence of bad smell and no trace of putrefaction.
6) RATIONAL AND VOLUNTARY MOVEMENTS OF SALMA
There are also episodes in which the Saint, already dead, has raised an arm to bless (San Gibriano, Santa Eustochia da Messina), raised a foot to be kissed (Sant’Agnese da Montepulciano), opened his eyes and turned his head towards the Blessed Sacrament (San Pasquale Baylon), covered his private parts with his hands while he was being dressed (San Filippo Neri, San Gerardo da Aurillac), crossed his arms over his chest (Blessed Veronica from Binasco), or smiled while being transported in front of the ‘altar (Santa Caterina De’ Vigri).
These are events, for which the possibility of a cataleptic state or an apparent death must be excluded, due to the very circumstances that accompany the phenomenon; just as, rationality and the logic of gestures exclude the possibility of convulsive movements of the corpse due to the consequences of putrefaction.
7) REJUVENATION OF THE BODIES
The incorrupt body generally does not arouse neither horror nor fear, rather it strikes for the serenity of the aspect, similar to that of a sleeping person. But we know clamorous cases in which the witnesses present at the passing witnessed authentic miracles: in practice (the traces that time and illness had left suddenly disappeared) the appearance of the deceased appeared embellished and rejuvenated for many years.
An exemplary case is that of St. Francis of Assisi. But we can also mention Sant’Antonio da Padova, Santa Lutgarda, Sant’Andrea Avellino, the Blessed Colomba da Rieti.
8) THE GROWTH OF NAILS, BEARDS, HAIR
In some circumstances, in addition to the incorruption phenomenon, a prodigious growth of the nails, hair or beard was found. We quote for example San Gaudenzio, San Jodoco, Sant’Amando from Maastricht, the Venerable Maria Lorenza Longo, the Blessed Elena Enselmini.
9) THE TRANS-VERBATION OF THE HEART
At times, during the reconnaissance of the corpse, the presence of stigmata in the heart was noted, already announced (and described minutely) by the Saint while he was alive. In some cases the heart muscle appeared to be literally pierced by a lesion (Saint Teresa of Avila), while in others it contained fleshy growths depicting the crucifix, the nails of passion, or other religious symbols (Saint Veronica Giuliani, Saint Clare of Montefalco, the Venerable Caterina Savelli, the Venerable Seraphim of God, etc.).
Some critics have challenged the reality of these miracles, arguing that it was rather heart disease naively exchanged for prodigies. A thesis, this, that does not stand up to the test of facts, since it was the doctors and surgeons who performed the autopsies.
Moreover, it would remain inexplicable how these great mystics could have anticipated the images, then found within their bodies.
10) THE APPEARANCE OF GREAT LIGHTS
Numerous witnesses witnessed the appearance of lights coming from the bodies or tombs of some of these Saints. Immediately after the death of San Luigi Bertrand (1581), a mysterious light came out of his mouth for several minutes, illuminating the entire cell. During the two days of exposition of the Blessed Marianna of Jesus (m. In 1624), many witnesses saw the face radiate brightness, to the point of illuminating the humble little room where he lived.
But the most impressive manifestation took place in the tomb of St. Charbel Makhlouf (d. In 1898): the strong light that shone for forty-five nights above the burial, was observed by many villagers and was later repeated during the exhumation.
11) THE INCORRURATION EXTENDED TO THE DRESSES, TO THE FLOWERS, ETC.
In some cases, the phenomenon of corruption has seemed to extend to clothing and objects inside the burial.
In 2001, on the occasion of the exhumation of the Servant of God Teresa of Jesus from Coopersburg (m. In 1939), a twig of palm still found inside the coffin was found. Other relevant cases concern Santa Gemma Galgani (intact flowers after six years), Santa Lucia Filippini (hyacinth flowers, fresh and fragrant after one hundred and twenty years).
12) THE GERMINATION OF FLOWERS FROM THE HEART OR FROM THE MOUTH
It is a kind of miracle so far-fetched as to appear legendary; yet, even for these events there is no lack of testimonies.
At the opening of the tomb of Blessed Cherubino of Avigliana (m. In 1479), it was seen that a very fragrant lily had sprouted from the heart. The same happened with Beato Ugolino da Cortona m. in 1367) and with the Blessed Francesco da Siena (m. in 1328). Instead, in the case of Blessed Elena Enselmini (d. In 1241) and of Blessed Antonio da Monticiano (d. In 1311), the flower germinated from the mouth.
Source it.aleteia.org/Gelsomino del Guercio