Blessed Jacinta Marto (incorruptible)

Hi everybody.

I have to admit that I am an atheist (I hope you guys don’t mind me posting here, but this question has been nagging at me and I couldn’t think of any other forum that might possibly know the answer) but have been fascinated by the Incorrupt Saints for several years now, particularly Jacinta Marto of Fatima. I’m sure you all know this, but she died of complications from Spanish Flu in 1920 at the age of ten, and was exhumed in 1935 and found to be incorrupt. There are even several pictures of her during her exhumation, and she looks like she’s simply sleeping.

I’m just wondering if anybody on here knows if her body is still in the same condition.

Also, why was she never made a saint? Is the Catholic church at all interested in “following up”, so to speak, with her and possibly elevating her to sainthood, or has she pretty much been forgotten about?

Thanks in advance.

Hi Clair! I’ve seen the picture you refer to. It is fascinating isn’t it? It looks just like she’s sleeping. There are lots of incorruptibles in the Catholic Church and some in the Orthodox Church as well. No one knows why this happens, except those people were very holy in life. Must be a gift from above. I couldn’t tell you of the condition of her body today, as she hasn’t been exhumed lately that I have heard of.

As to her sainthood, she must have two verified miracles due to her intercession to be declared a saint. As a “Blessed”, which means she is beatified, she must have had one miracle attributed to her intercession. The church doesn’t specifically follow someone once they have been beatified, nor do they ignore them. They just let nature take it’s course and wait for another credible miracle from someone that prayed for her intercession. Lots of beatified people never make it to the formal “saint” category, but they are in heaven just the same. All people in heaven are saints. I’m sure Jacinta is one of them. She is a very holy little girl.

Welcome to CAF. We allow all sorts of people on this forum. We are happy to have atheist and hope that you will stick around and learn something about the Catholic faith.

Yes I am a great supporter of Jacinta Marto. I selected Jacinta as my first daughter’s name much before I got married.

Seeing all the incorruptible bodies of saints in the Catholic Church how can you still be an atheist?

Speaking on behalf of the atheists (which I never was one, but came very close), there are arguments for the naturalness of bodily incorruption.

Most dead bodies, even of recognized saints, decay, and there also are instances of bodies who were never Christian saints remaining incorrupted.

Ie, there is no discernible connection between saintliness of life and an incorrupt body.

To answer the OP’s question, sainthood normally takes many years. Instances of someone like HH St. John Paul II being canonized after less than a decade are not the norm; Saint John Neumann had been dead (one of the few male incorrupts) for 117 years before he was named to sainthood.

Incorruption of body is not, a priori, a factor in assigning sainthood.


Thanks for the answers, guys.

Another question: suppose Jacinta was exhumed today and her body was found, once again, to be incorrupt. Could her incorruptibility be considered a miracle in itself and could she be made a saint, or is incorruptibility, no matter how miraculous it may seem, not considered a miracle?

Thanks again!

No, incorruption is not counted twice for canonization.

It’s not even forever; saints have been found incorrupt, and then centuries later, the bodies have gone back into nature.


Hi Claire
As another has pointed out cases of so-called “incorruptability”, while not frequent, are found universally and are not limited to Catholics or even believers.

Also, “incorruptability” is a little bit in the eye of the beholder. All the “incorupt saints” I am aware of all have varying degrees of dessication and even partial decay. The one’s discovered and on display have also been “touched up” with very life-like prosthetics (eg wax) and intentional “mummification” techniques (eg hermetically sealed glass cases) to aid preservation.

The greatest mystical writers have always strongly maintained that holiness and miracles are two different matters. That is, extraordinary “actual graces” (eg miraculous gifts) are not a guarantee of “sanctifying graces” (the indwelling of the Holy Spirit).

It may even be that “incorruptability” (note that what is really meant is extraordinary attenuated decay over time when circumstances seem to necessitate decay) is an inherent possibility of nature that science is not yet able to explain.

Was it Paul Tillich who said we have to be careful not to base religion on a “God of the gaps” approach to the extraordinary.

I’ve been reading a lot of material about Fatima lately, but this is news to me: Apparently when Jacinta’s body was first exhumed, only her face was displayed insomuch as her body indeed had started to decompose. It has been said that her face now has started to decompose but I have not been able to verify this. Her body is not on display at the basilica in Fatima. There is a picture purportedly of Jacinta’s body taken recently, but I have not been able to verify the truthfulness of this photograph or photographer.

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