Take the 2-minute tour ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The Roman Catholic Church claims that some corpses have supernaturally slow decomposition. Were those bodies examined by skeptics?

share|improve this question

1 Answer 1

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Yes, some of those bodies were examined by skeptics. Io and behold:

http://web.archive.org/web/20010610014402/http://www.discover.com/june_01/featsaints.html

Sometimes the saints had been mummified by skilled preparators, sometimes natural conditions significantly slowed decay. Sometimes, the corpse was just replaced again and again with a newly deceased one.

The article above concludes with:

In the face of science, the roman Catholic Church has now virtually abandoned the notion of incorruptibility. It no longer accepts physical preservation as one of the two miracles required before a saint can be recognized by the Pope. Still, suppressing a sense of astonishment is difficult in the presence of a saint's preserved body. It is an amazing affirmation, a testimony to one person's significance in a universe often stony with indifference. It seems to hold out hope that death will not be the end of us, that there is some salvation from the final annihilation that we fear awaits us all.

Since we know that both natural and artificial mummification exist, so the burden of proof lies with anyone who claims that it was the work of god.

share|improve this answer
    
What is the evidence to support these claims? –  Peter Sean Bradley May 31 '11 at 22:32
    
The link above is an adapted excerpt from a book to which I have no direct access. It mentions the investigations done by specialists on mummification on some of the allegedly incorruptible corpses. –  Lagerbaer May 31 '11 at 22:37
    
"It no longer accepts physical preservation as one of the two miracles required before a saint can be recognized by the Pope" Some source to backup the implied assertion that incorruptibility was once a requisite for canonization? –  leonbloy Feb 13 '13 at 17:39
    
The requirement was not incorruptibility, but rather having "performed" at least two miracles. It is implied that having an uncorrupted corpse used to be considered a miracle, but isn't anymore. –  Lagerbaer Feb 13 '13 at 18:57

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.