Monday, July 6, 2015

Photographing the real bodies of "incorrupt" Saints of the Roman Catholic Church

By Elizabeth Harper
The incorrupt body of St. Francesca Romana, Santa Francesca Romana, also called Santa Maria Nova, Rome.
ITALY---Most people think incorruptibility is permanent, but another incorrupt saint, Francesca Romana, disabuses that notion. She’s little more than a skeleton dressed in a nun’s habit. So it goes in the world of the incorrupt, a group of saints whose bodies supposedly won’t decompose. Francesca was deemed incorrupt a few months after her death in 1440. When her tomb was reopened two centuries later, she was nothing but bone. This is surprisingly unproblematic for believers. The Church doesn’t count incorruptibility as an official Vatican-approved miracle anymore. It’s more like a favorable, if fading, sign from God. Incorruptibility also isn’t binary, something you either are or aren’t. It can affect just one body part, lending extra significance to a heart, a tongue or hand. [link]
The wax effigy and relics of St. Victoria, the skeleton of a catacomb martyr with cutaways to show her relics. Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome.