Saint Silvan, the incorruptible saint


I’ve just learned about this amazing martyr, who died around 350 AD. His body has been incorrupt for over a millenium and a half. This is a great sign of the truth of the Catholic Faith!

By the way, some saints are buried under altars because of their martyrdom to Christ; they sacrificed their lives for Him (Rev 6:9).


I love him too! I’ve always wondered if he is the same St. Silvan spoken of in the letters of St. Paul. He was a Bishop, I believe, of Thessolonika (sp?).

I always ask him for his intercession. :smiley:


I have assisted at mass as a deacon at the Cathedral of St Blase in Dubrovnik , Croatia where this is. It is so incredibly preserved, I at at first thought it was a wax figure. When I asked the priest at the Cathedral who it represented, he told me it was the actual incorrupt body of a saint. I had forgotten the name. I am glad to know it is St Silvan. Thank you.
Prayers & blessings
Deacon Ed B


I think I would be scared to death to be in the same room with the incorruptable body of a saint, which is sad. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to having been dragged to the BodyWorlds exhibit while I was having my nervous breakdown.

Imagine being taken to see a bunch of plastic-dipped bodies in various poses, with lots of quotes about the nature of death all over the walls, and all the while you’re suffering from severe death anxiety.

Even looking at the photograph of the Saint gives me chills and makes me feel nervous now. That’s terribly sad. I wish I could look with reverence on him instead.


Hi Tabitha, I can give you what the Lord gave me to over come that. Both my wife and I have gone through, and it is biblical.


I just went looking for pictures of him, and a Flickr photograph has a caption underneath that says, “Although his face appears to be wax, he’s considered to be incorruptible.” I’m not sure what to make of that. I know that in some cases a light coat of wax was necessary to prevent discoloration due to candle smoke and such, but that isn’t anything major. They may have waxed his face for simliar reasons, but you’d think you’d see some breakdown of his flesh if this were all some kind of… I don’t know. Joke, jest, misunderstanding, “Catholic superstition.”

I was right, though. Seeing pictures of various Incorruptible saints made me very nervous. I don’t really know what to make of them. I know that the bodies aren’t preserved, and that only recently did we come up with the plasticine dipping that the bodies in the BodyWorlds exhibit were preserved with. After all this time, though, the saints don’t look too bad.


Really? I’d love to know… I’m absolutely terrified of mummies and dead bodies these days, because it was very unnerving for me to go through that exhibit. Two things that terribly upset me were seeing the preserved infants and unborn, and seeing a man whose body was flayed and arranged so he looked like some kind of wizard flying on a broomstick. Both those parts of the exhibit really freaked me out, and I’m still kind of weirded out by the saints I saw pictures of.


It’s okay if you’re nervious about seeing incorruptible bodies, or even dead bodies on display - it can definitely be nerve-wrecking, because it’s like they’re zombies or something.

To cheer you up, here are some happy babies:


There is an interesting book entitled, “The Incorruptibles”. I do not recall the author. Most Catholic book stores either have it or can get it. It is a good and informative read.
Prayers & blessings
Deacon Ed B


I have the book, its, “The Incorruptibles: A Study of the Incorruption of the Bodies of Various Catholic Saints and Beatification” by Joan Carroll Cruz

The author begins the book by explaining the difference between mumified bodies and the incorruptibles, and why they are not even close to being the same.

I saw the incorrupt body of St. Bernadette at Nevers France. In fact, I attended Mass in the chapel where her body lays.

She’s beautiful.



I’ve read that not only do the bodies not decay, but the bodies don’t have the smell of decay on them, either, and it’s not the result of waxing or anything else.

I recall reading about Elmer McCurdy (I think I got that right) who was embalmed and then stuffed in wax afterwards, but he still suffered corruption.


i was there, i wish i would have know about him then :frowning:


A couple of things I remember from the book, and from my visit to France. Going from memory here, so please forgive me, if I get a detail wrong.

Mummification requires dry heat. The Egyptian mummies had the internal organs removed, and the cavity filled with hot sand.

Incorruptibles, because many were living in monasteries, which were built on less than desirable land, were often buried along side swamps and marshes. Often, the clothing the person was buried in had decayed, but the body had not.

Mummified bodies are stiff and leathery.

Incorruptibles are soft and and supple. I believe it was St. John of the Cross who bled, when they attempted to cut a finger off to be used as a 1st class relic.

Incorruptible bodies often give off a scent of perfume, or other sweet fragrance.

The body of some incorruptibles, have been known to change position.

St. Catherine of Labore, was buried with her eyes closed and her hands laying on her chest, pointing toward her head,as in prayer. She was discovered to be incorrupt in 1830 at which time, they moved her body to the chapel. About the time of the French Revolution In mid 1800’s, there as a riot breaking out in the street outside of the shrine. People inside the shrine-chapel noticed that St. Catherine’s eyes had opened, and her hands were now point toward the ceiling. The excitement flowed into the street and the curiosity of the crowd to see the event, stopped the riot.

BTW, her eyes are blue. I got to see her, and she like St. Bernadette, is beautiful.



I too have seen her in Paris. Right down the street from the Shrine of the Miraculous Medal where she is, is the Cathedral of St. Vincent De Paul. His incorrupt body is in a glass sarcophagus above the main altar with stairs leading up to it. You can actually get within inches of him if you press against the glass. It is incredible.One is left with awe about our God and his gifts to us.

Before I retired, a couple where I worked were going to Europe. I told them about the incorruptibles and where they could see them. This couple is protestant and while they saw them, refused to believe what it was that they saw. They kept insisting that these were wax figures. I tried explaining to them, but they were rather fundamentalist and it was like talking to a stone wall. I ended up just telling them I would pray for them. It is wonderful what we can see through the eyes of faith.

What is even more astounding, there are some incorruptables in Europe that I have read about who were actually protestant. Oh well.

Prayers & blessings!
Deacon Ed B


OMGosh, are you KIDDING??


No, I’m not kidding. :smiley:



Well! we were very scared of things like that and both knew that it wasn’t “Godly” to be afraid or scared so we prayed and this is what came up.
We told Jesus that we were scared and could He help, we then told Jesus that we nailed our fears in our life to the cross, and then we both told Jesus that we gave our fears in our lives to Him and left them at the foot of Jesus on the cross.

Response to both of us and others who have done this was instantanious, we both knew that the fear had been there but now it had no place in our lives.

Yes Jesus took it away.
It was an amazing thing to happen and realy did happen.

Hope you get good health


Thank you, littleone! You’ve been a big help. I know that part of the reason I have death anxiety is because God uses it as a tool to make me think, not just knee-jerk react to things, and to learn about my faith. If I hadn’t had such severe death anxiety I wouldn’t have really looked at New Ageism and Wicca and found them so totally dissatisfying and distasteful, and I’d never have come to appreiate orthodoxy and the Catholic Church so much.

So, I don’t know that I’ll be able to get rid of my anxieties the way you did, because God might have further use for them. But I like the suggestion and I will pray that God help me and leave my fears and doubts at the foot of the Cross.


**Good for you, just remember you are a beautiful child of God, and yes do what you have said.
Godbless **


I understand your fear, but I do not share it.

I love Incorruption. When my time comes, (hopefully not for a VERY long time), I could almost hope to be one myself. It’s the next best thing to being alive:):slight_smile:

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