Incorruptible Bodies of Saints
‘Remember o man that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ We hear these words each Ash Wednesday to remind us of death and judgment awaiting us all. While our bodies are the source of so much focus in our culture, they will decay into dust, until they are ultimately resurrected and reunited with our souls at the end of the world.
God has granted exceptions to this, however, in the “incorruptibles”—saints whose bodies are miraculously preserved in tact after death, as a visible sign of their holiness. These miracles have withstood in-depth scientific and medical examinations that rule out any possible hoaxes and make clear that they are entirely distinct from those bodies preserved through extreme temperatures or mummification.
When St. Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes was examined in 1909, thirty years after her death, her body appeared the same as when she had been alive: her body was odorless and her skin was supple and had coloration—while the rosary in her hands had rusted over. Today her body can still be observed and pilgrims state that looks as if she were merely asleep.
And then there’s the St. Anthony of Padua. Years after his death his body had decayed, but God had preserved the great preacher’s tongue alone—those present reported that it was perfectly pink.