Incorrupt Saints

Pope St. Pius V’s incorrupt body lies in the grand basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. It is housed in a glass tomb making it possible for pilgrims to see him. He is dressed in papal garments. When I have seen him on visits to Rome, he appears quite regal, yet very accessible, as the pilgrim may draw near to the tomb, and visit with him. I love how our Catholic Faith has traditionally done such seemingly unusual things, such as, housing the body, some call them the remains, of a beloved saint in see-through tombs to allow veneration by their devotees. This leads to today’s topic, incorruptible saints: there are bodies of certain saints that, in a mysterious manner, do not corrupt, do not decay as a typical body would; these saints are known as the incorruptibles. The following is an excerpt from the website, Roman Catholic Saints, on this topic; I was surprised at the long list of incorruptible saints at the end:

The Incorruptibles are saints whose bodies are miraculously preserved after death, defying the normal process of decomposition. St. Cecilia is probably the first saint known to be incorrupt, but the bodies of these saints can be found in many places throughout the world.

They are not like mummies, for their skin is soft and their limbs pliable, nothing at all like the dry, skeletal remains of mummies. Under usual circumstances, nothing at all has been done to preserve the bodies of these saints. In fact, some of them have been covered in quicklime, which should have easily destroyed any human remains, yet it has no effect of these saints. Many of them also give off a sweet, unearthly odor, and others produce blood or oils that defy any scientific explanation.

Modern science relegates the incorruptibles to the status of mummies, pretending it understands and can comfortably categorize these saints. How then do the scientists explain the fact that a year and a half after the death of St. Francis Xavier, a medical examiner placed a finger into one of the saint’s wounds and found fresh blood on his finger when he withdrew it? Or that when a finger was amputated from St. John of the Cross several months after his death, it was immediately observed that blood began to flow from the wound? Or the case of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, whose arms have frequently bled over the last 400 years?

The Incorruptible Saints

No, these saints are in a class by themselves. Even though incorruptibility does not automatically confer sainthood upon the subject, it is still properly appreciated by the Church as a supernatural occurrence. The truth is that these occurrences cannot be understood outside of Divine intervention on behalf of these saints, as the laws of nature have been suspended on behalf of the incorruptible saints. Perhaps it is that God is visibly showing us his pleasure with these saints? Still, it is a physical manifestation of God’s love, and the incorruptible saints console us by their presence, seeming to plead with us to likewise make ourselves pleasing to God in all ways.

A List of Incorruptible Saints

Saint Agatha
Saint Agnes of Montepulciano
Blessed Andrew Franchi
Blessed Angela of Foligno
Saint Angela Merici
Blessed Angelo of Acri
Blessed Angelo of Chivasso
Blessed Anthony Bonfadini
Blessed Anthony of Stroncone
Blessed Antonia of Florence
Saint Benedict the Moor
Saint Bernadette Soubirous
Saint Bernardine of Siena
Saint Catherine of Bologna
Saint Catherine of Genoa
Saint Cecilia
Saint Charles Borromeo
Saint Charles of Sezze
Saint Clare of Assisi
Saint Clare of Montefalco
Saint Crispin of Viterbo
Saint Didacus of Alcala
Saint Eustochium
Saint Fernando III
Saint Frances of Rome
Saint Francis de Sales
Blessed Francis of Fabriano
Venerable Francis Gonzaga
Blessed Gabriel Ferretti
Blessed Gandolph of Binasco
Blessed Helen Enselmini
Saint Ignatius of Laconi
Saint Ignatius of Santhia
Blessed Imelda Lambertini
Blessed James of Bitecto
Saint James of the March
Blessed James Oldo
Blessed James of Pieve
Blessed James of Strepar
Saint Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney (The Curé of Ars)
Blessed Jane Mary of Maille
Blessed Jane of Signa
Saint Jane of Valois
Saint John Bosco
Saint Joseph of Cupertino
Saint Louis Bertrand
Blessed Lucy of Narni
Blessed Margaret of Castello
Saint Margaret of Cortona
Blessed Margaret of Lorraine
Blessed Mark Marconi
Venerable Mary of Agreda
Blessed Mary Assunta Pollotta
Saint Mary Joseph Rossello
Blessed Mary Magdalene Martinengo
Blessed Matthia Nazzarei 

Blessed Nicholas Factor
Saint Pacifico of San Severino
Saint Paschal Baylon
Blessed Philippa Mareri
Saint Pope Pius X
Saint Rose of Viterbo
Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio
Saint Seraphin of Montegranaro
Blessed Salome of Cracow
Saint Sperandia
Saint Veronica Giuliani
Saint Vincent Pallotti
Saint Zita

Saint Albert the Great
Saint Alphege of Canterbury
Blessed Alphonsus of Orozco
Saint Andrew Bobola
Blessed Angelo of Borgo San Sepolcro
Blessed Anna Maria Taigi
Saint Anthony Maria Zaccaria
Saint Antoninus
Blessed Arcangela Girlani
Saint Benezet
Blessed Bernard Scammacca
Blessed Bertrand of Garrigua
Saint Camillus de Lellis
Venerable Catalina de Cristo
Saint Catherine Labouré
Blessed Charbel Makhlouf
Saint Catherine dei Ricci
Saint Catherine of Siena
Saint Coloman
Saint Cuthbert
Saint Dominic Savio
Saint Edmund Rich of Canterbury
Saint Edward the Confessor
Saint Etheldreda
Blessed Eustochia Calafato
Saint Ezequiel Moreno y Diaz
Saint Francis of Paola
Saint Francis Xavier
Saint George Preca
Saint Germaine Cousin
Saint Guthlac
Annibale Maria di Francia (Founder of the Rogationist and Daughters of Divine Zeal)
Saint Herculanus of Piegaro
Saint Hugh of Lincoln
Saint Idesbald
Saint Isidore the Farmer
Blessed James of Blanconibus
Venerable John of Jesus Mary
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal
Saint Jeanne de Lestonnac
Blessed John of Chiaramonte
Saint John of God
Saint John of the Cross
Saint John Southworth
Saint Josaphat
Saint Julie Billiart
Blessed Karl of Austria
Saint Louise de Marillac
Saint Luigi Orione
Saint Lucy Filippini
Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat
Blessed Mafalda of Portugal
Blessed Margaret of Savoy
Saint Maria Goretti
Venerable Maria Vela
Saint Martin de Porres
Blessed Mary Bagnesi
Saint Mary Magdalen de’ Pazzi
Blessed Mary of the Divine Heart
Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres
Venerable Mother Maria of Jesus
Saint Nicholas of Tolentino
Blessed Osanna of Mantua
Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
Blessed Paula Frassinetti
Saint Peregrine Laziosi
Blessed Peter Ghigenzi
Saint Philip Neri
Saint Pierre Julien Eymard
Saint Rita of Cascia
Saint Romuald
Saint Rose of Lima
Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi
Saint Silvan
Saint Stanislaus Kostka
Saint Teresa of Avila
Saint Teresa Margaret of the Sacred Heart
Saint Ubald of Gubbio
Saint Vincent de Paul
Saint Waltheof
Saint Werburgh
Saint Withburga
Saint Wunibald


That list is much longer than I thought.

I found more information on the incorruptible saints at a website titled, Incorrupt Bodies of the Saints:

The incorrupt bodies of these saints are simply a living witness or proof to the truth of the Catholic religion as the one true faith from God, who has confirmed the testimony of the Church in the great miracles he has worked through it’s saints.

The Council of Trent:

“The bodies of holy martyrs and others now living with Christ, bodies which were His members and temples of the Holy Spirit, which one day are to be raised up by Him and made glorious in everlasting life, are to be venerated by the faithful; God gives men many benefits through them.”

The Bodies of the saints for us are like great and holy relics, which move us to honor the saints who God has chosen to honor by preserving them incorrupt.

In scripture we read that the use of the bones of Elisha brought a dead man to life: “So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet.” (2 Kgs. 13:20-21).

A woman was cured of a hemorrhage by touching the hem of Christ’s cloak (Matt. 9:20-22). The sick were healed when Peter’s shadow passed over them (Acts 5:15-16). “And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them” (Acts 19:11-12).

The Power of the relics to work miracles doesn’t come from the object itself but from God, who confirms the faith of the person who is healed by means of them as to testify to the holiness of His saints.   source

That is quite beautiful, and causes one to remember that the Catholic Faith is a physical faith, as the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (Council of Trent, above).

The incorrupt saints’ bodies that we venerate throughout the world are physical testimonies to that Truth.

May you have a good day.


•Image: Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, Roma; home to Pope St. Pius V.