St. Camillus de Lellis died in 1614
at age 64, and look at him now! Looking fabulous
for a guy who just turned 465. Am I right? He’s incorrupt, as fresh as the day he died. Thanks, Catholicism.
*record scratch* Wait, but… I don’t mean to be a Negative Nancy here, but he doesn’t really look miraculously incorrupt to me, he kind of just looks like a guy made out of wax. If only I knew an incorrupt corpse expert. Oh. I do. Elizabeth Harper, International Relic Hunter, welcome. – Hi!
– So St. Camillus. Like, what’s up with him? Well, when I saw him in Rome, the sacristan–
the guy who’s in charge of all of the relics– said he was incorrupt, but then he unlatched a compartment underneath the body and St. Camillus’ full skeleton was laid out inside. I knew it! St. Camillus Wax Dude. But that doesn’t mean he’s not incorrupt. You can’t judge a catholic corpse by its cover. Okay, so help us understand. What is the concise definition of an incorrupt corpse? Mmm. There’s no concise definition. Well then, let’s talk, like, a list.
How long is it? How many are there? There’s no list, either. Well then, how is that even a title? Well, everyone who’s even considered for sainthood
has to be exhumed and examined as part of the canonization process. So you’re a potential saint, maybe gonna
be a saint, and I exhume you. What am I looking for? No rot at all? Are you supposed to be lifelike? – Our modern guidelines for what’s acceptably incorrupt come from Pope Benedict the 14th in 1734. This might surprise you, but the most important word he used to describe the incorrupt wasn’t “lifelike.”
It was “flexible.” So no mummifying, no preservation allowed. So if you’d like to play along, I brought a game. Tell me more. It’s called: Incorrupt or Nah? [game show music] First, since they’re not Catholic saints, here are some nah’s right off the bat. Lenin…nah! [buzzer] Bog bodies, nah! [buzzer] Rosalia Lombardo, the famous doll-like mummy from the Confucian crypts? Nah. [buzzer] Okay, hit me with my first body. – St. Catherine of Siena, incorrupt or nah? Okay, I know St. Catherine.
I just did a video about her, and there was all sorts of weird miraculous preservation stuff around her, so I’m gonna say, incorrupt. *buzzer* Nah. In 1998, Italian pathologist Ezio Fulcheri from the University of Genoa, studied this group of medieval female saints,
all thought to be incorrupt. But they’d had organs removed, they were stuffed with herbs, and they had resin rubbed into their skin. Everyone was so concerned with modesty that no one ever fully examined them. So today, they’re no longer considered incorrupt. Okay, zero for one, Caitlin.
Next one. – Okay, St. Paula Frassinetti.
Incorrupt or nah? So her skin looks preserved. – It is, with carbolic acid. – Alright, so no preservation allowed at all.
That would make this one a nah. – EHH! *laughs* It’s incorrupt.
– What? – Yeah, it’s incorrupt. When they first opened up St. Paula’s tomb 24 years after her death, she was looking great. And the nuns of her order were thrilled. So thrilled that they had her preserved in carbolic acid. But since this happened after the discovery of her body, she’s still considered incorrupt. Is that you and St. Paula? – Yeah, it definitely is. A nun took the picture. It’s fine. She insisted. You don’t say no to a nun.
– Yeah, you don’t say no to a nun. Zero to two. – St. Julian Eymard, in Paris – That is super creepy. That has to just be wax. So that is a nah. That is a nah nah nah. *buzzer* No. He’s incorrupt–
– No! Yes, he is. He’s incorrupt just like St. Paula. His church also tried to bathe him in carbolic acid, but it completely backfired and destroyed his body. So what’s now left of him is encased in this terrifying wax effigy that makes it look like he’s been buried alive. Sure makes me feel pious… St. Anthony of Padua: incorrupt or nah? – Is that a body part?
– Yeah, that’s his tongue. – Okay, if this game has taught me anything so far, it’s that I have to just go against every
instinct that I have. So I’m gonna say that this is an incorrupt tongue. You’re right. It’s incorrupt. *cheering* Sometimes only one body part is incorrupt,
while the rest decomposes normally. This is exactly what happened to St. Anthony of Padua. When his coffin was opened,
only his tongue survived intact. So it was detached and put on display in a reliquary. Points on the incorrupt detached tongue.
Thank you! Ready for the lightning round? Bring it. – Here are two skeletons wearing clothes.
Which one is incorrupt? – Um…the one on the bottom. No, the one on the top is the incorrupt
skeleton of St. Francesca Romana. Okay, two brown leathery bodies.
Which one is incorrupt? – Well, the one on the left is in a box, which makes me think she’s more important,
so the one on the left? Correct!
– Finally! [cheers] – Okay, last one. Ready?
– Mm-hmm. Two wax bodies. This one is extra confusing because they’re in the same church.
So which one is incorrupt? – The one in the awesome hat! You’re so right! [cheers] [game show music] This is not me being bitter
because I lost or anything, but if it’s so random, why is this even
still a criteria for sainthood? Well, this is a big reason why the church doesn’t consider incorruptibility a miracle anymore. It used to be that if you were found incorrupt, that could help you become a saint. But today, there are just too many natural explanations for finding bodies in this state. So incorruptability has been downgraded from miraculous to a favorable sign. A favorable…sign.
– A favorable sign. Okay, so it’s like, alright, you’re incorrupt, that doesn’t mean you’re a saint, but it doesn’t…hurt. Basically. Well, thank you for coming by
to clear nothing up, Elizabeth. You can find more of her photographs
and writing on her fantastic blog, All the Saints You Should Know.
And you should know them! – You should.
– Unlike me, who apparently knows none of them. [cheers] Brought to you with support from People’s Memorial Association and the Co-op Funeral Home, and donations from viewers like you.