The Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức self-immolated during a political protest and it is reported that

The monk’s remains were ordered cremated for burial, but something unexplainable happened: witnesses said his heart would not burn. Even after a second cremation, 10 hours in all, historians say his heart did not disintegrate, along with some of his bones, which had crystallized.

Was his heart unable to be cremated, despite two attempts?

  • 7
    Given that The cause of death is frequently ... inhalation of hot gases. Complete cremation is only achieved under extreme circumstances, then why not? A corpse might be removed from the fire after death, and be extinguished. Jul 28, 2021 at 18:32
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    What is the notable claim?
    – user253751
    Jul 29, 2021 at 10:35
  • 2
    Thanks for the "warm" welcome... I added more details and since the old case of Joan d'Arc seemed not very well-recieved I also provided a specific quote referring to the more recent event of the monk's death. By the way I kinda found the closing a bit premature
    – Dinisaur
    Jul 29, 2021 at 13:00
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    I am not sure how much facts can be found out about events that happened over 400 years ago. Especially when you consider the level of medical knowledge in that era.
    – Joe W
    Jul 29, 2021 at 13:43
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    I support this thread being re-opened now. Maybe change the title to reflect that it is a specific question about the remains of Quảng Đức
    – KobeGote
    Jul 30, 2021 at 8:34

1 Answer 1


Although it is hard to say for Quảng Đức specifically, it wouldn't be without any precedent, a famous similar case is that of Percy Shelley's heart, Mary Shelley's, his wife, carried the heart with her for the longest time.

One of the most prominent hypothesis is that it was due to tissue calcification from a previous tuberculosis infection he had. Unfortunately, it seems both cases lack the analysis of an expert, allowing debate on whether it is indeed the heart, or perhaps some other body part, that survived the fire, the liver being one popular choice among anatomists.

Despite having no expert analysis, there are multiples accounts of the survival of Percy's "heart". One quote from a 1955 The Journal of the History of Medicine by Arthur Norman found in a 1995 New York Times letter reads:

[Shelley may have suffered from] a progressively calcifying heart . . . which indeed would have resisted cremation as readily as a skull, a jaw or fragments of bone.

Another evidence can be found in an 1822 manuscript by Leigh Hund and Edward Trelawny titled "Account of the death and cremation of Percy Bysshe Shelley, together with a description of his life and character and that of his companion Captain Williams, who was drowned with Shelley in his yacht"

It is a curious circumstance that the heart, which was unusually large, together with some other vessels in that quarter(?) seemed almost proof against fire, for it was still entire in figurine & apparently in substance, though the intensity of the heat was so great that harder substances were reduced to white dust.

(Quote taken from folio 18)

Whatever may've been the actual reason/body part in either case, it is at least reasonable to believe the stories to be true without relying purely on some supernatural phenomenon.

  • 3
    This seems to be using one dubious claim to support another. (Bigfoot is evidence that the Yeti might be real.) Is there good evidence of the calcified heart theory?
    – Oddthinking
    Aug 12, 2021 at 10:37
  • @Oddthinking yes, it has been extensively documented with multiple articles written about it, there's an article from New York Times mentioning a 1955 article in The Journal of The History of Medicine in 1955 which talks about the calcification theory, as well as a manuscript from 1822 describing the proceedings and the survival of the supposed heart. I'll edit the answer to include those.
    – Iorpim
    Aug 12, 2021 at 19:02

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