What is a incorruptible Saint?

As per above. I’ve read the google/wikipedia/catholic.com descriptions but am still having a hard time understanding it. :shrug:

These are primarily (exclusively?) Catholics who have lived lives of high sanctity and/or heroic virtue. Due to such exemplary lives, after their death, they are considered for canonization (Sainthood). At some point in the process of examining their cause for canonization, their bodies are exhumed. In certain cases, those bodies have been found to be in an almost perfectly preserved state - as if they were asleep. Others are partially decomposed. Saint Anthony of Padua’s tongue was found in such a state, while the rest of his body was decomposed. This is all scientifically inexplicable.

Although it may not help, the following is from the Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.†

INCORRUPTIBILITY. Incapacity of decay or destruction. This may be absolute, as God, who is wholly unchangeable by nature; or natural, as the angels and souls, which, being spirits, cannot disintegrate by decomposition; or substantial, as in physical nature, whose elements can be variously recombined but in their ultimate constituents are not destroyed.

One is not a Saint, of course until one has died.

But sometimes, God will allow the earthly body of a Saint to remain in an undecomposed state as a sign of His power.


Thank you. Have you seen such a Saint? Have they been examined by scientists/doctors etc?

There at a very interesting book
The Incorruptibles by Joan Cruz, published by Tan Books.
It examines the different cases of various Saints whose bodies did not undergo corruption and it facinating. Great reading for Lent!

Yes, incorruptibles have been examined by men of science, and no natural explanation can be made for their non-decomposition.

If you google you can see photos.

Well, in some cases. Let’s not rest the Faith on signs and wonders.

In most cases, the bodies still seem to decompose slowly, or else they were known as incorruptible for a time and then decomposed normally. Masks and clothing sometimes make the bodies seem more perfectly preserved than they actually are. I would want to see an obviously unnatural case before concluding that there is absolutely no natural explanation.

Like, in the case you mentioned of just the saint’s tongue being preserved, that’s odd, but we’d want to see if there are cases of non-saints with unusual decomposition patterns like that.

I do not want to deny that God could do such a thing for His beloved ones, of course, but I don’t want anyone taking such a phenomenon as a clincher for Catholicism and later doubting their entire religion if they read an alternative explanation.

You should check out the book Swisscath mentioned:

I have only seen photos and read some reports. Saint Bernadette is but one example. I had a strong connection to her before I knew anything about her. I have no doubt that she was involved in my conversion and entry into the Church. Too many “coincidences.”

Thank you. Have ordered it. :smiley:

Not only do these bodies seem to lack normal decomposition, but in some cases witnesses have said that upon opening of the casket, there is a strong aroma of Roses present. That’s the same scent that many who have undergone exorcism claim to smell immediately after the ritual is concluded…a sign of God’s presence, who is the author of beauty

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