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Ryan Maziarz

Mr. Clark

Honors British Literature 12

9 March 2018

Incorruptible Saints

A.Incorruptible Saints

Incorruptibles are objects, or in some cases people, that do not go through decay. The

Incorruptible Saints are saints whose bodies have been miraculously preserved after death. The

saints do not age or disintegrate, they remain in the same form as when they died. The saints are

not mummies, their skin is still soft, and their limbs are flexible and easy to bend. The church

believes that there is an abundance of incorruptible saints. These miraculous miracles show us

the power of God, and the things He can truly do.

Research shows that St. Cecilia is known to be the first saint whose body has become

immortal or unchangeable. St. Cecilia died in 177AD and her body is still the same as it was

then. St. Cecilia lived a very powerful and faithful life. She grew up in a rich household and was

arranged to marry a young nobleman. On their wedding night, St. Cecilia talked them out of

breaking St. Cecilia's virginity, as well as converted him in his faith. After this she was arrested

and told to make a sacrifice to the gods or be killed. She refused and was sentenced to a vapor

bath at home. After one day and one-night, St. Cecilia was still alive. She was also beheaded, but

after three hits to the neck the man could not kill her. St. Cecilia rolled over with a half-severed

neck and prayed after he left. She was then found and buried in the same position in which she
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had died. 700 years later they wanted to move her remains to another church and found her body

in the same condition and position as it was 7oo years ago. Her body is as vibrant as it once was

suffering no aging or decaying. Her body can be found at the Basilica of St. Cecilia in the same

position, head down and hands crossed, as she was when she had died.

Another saint whose body is considered incorruptible is St. Catherine of Bologna. St.

Catherine knew from a young age that she wanted to devout her whole heart to Jesus Christ.

When she was old enough to marry, the suiters felt that they were unworthy of obtaining her

hand. This led St. Catherine to join a pious company of young woman at seventeen years old. St.

Catherine became very sick when she was 22, and at times it seemed as if her body would

collapse. She was said to pray in the worst times, "O bundle of corruption, which will soon turn

into dust, why should you complain? It appears as if you had not yet learnt to be a true servant of

Christ." (St. Catherine 1). This prayer was ironic, but St. Catherine did not know it at the time.

She just believed that God was in charge and that everything she did was for Him. Although St.

Catherine died from sickness, she was happy through it all. This led many to mourn her death

because of her personality and the live she had lived. The first sign of her incorruptible body was

when she was placed in the tomb and a sweet scent was produced. After this, miracles began

happening at her gravesite. The incurable were healed by going to the gravesite. Eighteen days

later, her body was found incorrupt, with sweat on the veil. One of the nuns that found her

noticed skin hanging off. She pulled it off and fresh blood came out. To this day, her body

remains incorrupt with her joints still being as flexible as before. Her remains can be seen in

Bologna sitting in a throne with an elegant robe.

These Saints lived very powerful lives and are incorruptible today to be a visual

representation of people who we should model our lives after.


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B.Relics: What's the big deal?


Relics are items that the church believes had an important role in the creation and growth

of the church and the catholic faith. Relics are kept to help remind Catholics of the past and learn

from it. Although some Catholics feel hesitant when discussing relics, Rev. Charles Mangan

speaks about why relics are important, and how the importance came to be.

"Some people think the Catholic Church abandoned her teaching on relics after Vatican

II. However, a quick glance at the Code of Canon Law, published by authority of Pope

John Paul II in 1983, reveals that the Church very much considers sacred relics to be

important and significant in the life of the Church." (Mangan 1)

This is a strong message for all Catholics because it displays that the church does think

relics are viable in helping grow in the faith. "There are also passages in scripture that support

the veneration of relics and believing in them. Scripture teaches that God acts through relics,

especially in terms of healing." (Frawley 1). The first case in scripture where relics appear is at

the martyrdom of St. Polycarp. He took off his clothes before he was burned at the stake, and

parts of his clothing were carried around by bishops for much of the fourth and fifth century.

This was the beginning of carrying holy people's objects. People believed that they would be

holier and felt obligated to carry around these relics. These relics grew and expanded and then

there were so many that they needed to be split up and sorted. There are three classes or types of

relics. First is part of the body of the saint, second is a piece of clothing from the saint, and third

is a bit of cloth that was in direct contact with the saints. Catholics believe that all these relics are

from the time period or people that they relate to. (Saunders 1)

C.Authenticity: How do we know?


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The church uses its knowledge and faith to classify relics. They use sacred scripture and

councils to prove and to show that these relics are truly authentic. Some of the relics that have

been brought from certain churches to other churches will sometimes have a paper that deems

the relic as authentic. The relics that do not have this certification document but have been

passed on remain authentic, because they have already been approved. If any new relics have

been shown or brought up it is the church's job to learn about the relic and the time period as

well as read sacred scripture to determine if the relic is as authentic as the person states. The

church does not know for sure if every relic is authentic, but the belief behind the relics is what

makes the relic powerful. If people truly believe that the relic is real, they strengthen their faith

by visualizing and learning through the relics. The relics help those believers who feel the need

to see concrete proof then to just believe. These people are like St. Thomas, the doubting saint.

Some people fall victim to not believing because they cannot see, but these relics, real or not,

help people see and in turn, grow in strength.

D.Conclusion: What to take away from Incorruptible Saints

Incorruptible Saints are symbols of miracles and are good for all Catholics to see and

experience. These specific saints are a representation of the lives that everyone is called to live.

God has a plan for everything and these saints, being incorruptible and around forever, help

people grow in their faith. They can physically see a person who spent their whole life doing

everything God wanted of them, and they can begin to model their lives after them. Something to

take away is that God is all powerful, He has the power to do whatever He pleases. This is a

marvel because one can never know what the future holds or how their lives will turn out.

Therefore, life is a mystery, because there are unexplainable things in our life that will ultimately

change who people truly are. The miracle that happened to these saints transformed their lives
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into being permanent models and people to look up too in hard times and to know that God

always has a plan if they stay strong and believe in Him.

There are many miracles in the world, and lots of things that humans cannot explain.

Expect the unexpected. St. Catherine accepted that one day her body would be turned to dust and

there was nothing she could do. The thing she never thought possible was that God would make

her famous and make her "live forever" as an example for everyone. These saints whose bodies

are incorrupt had no intention and no idea that this phenomenon would happen to them. Incorrupt

Saints are inspirational and incomprehensible.


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Works Cited
Frawley, Joan. “About Relics.” Treasures of the Church, www.treasuresofthechurch.com/about-
Relics.

Habig, Marion. “Saint Catherine of Bologna.” Roman Catholic Saints, www.roman


catholicsaints.com/saint-catherine-of-bologna.html.

Saunders, William. “Church Teaching on Relics.” Catholic Education Resource Center,


www.catholiceducation.org/en/culture/catholic-contributions/church-teaching-on
relics.html.

TAN books. “St Cecilia, First Incorruptible Saint.” , First Incorruptible Saint, www.roman-
catholic-
saints.com/st-cecilia.html.

“The Incorruptible Saints.” Incorruptible Saints, www.roman-catholic-saints.com/incorruptible-


saints.html.