Weird

Mushroom Death Suit: Funerals Go Fungal

The Infinity Burial Suit is the latest in green burial, using mushrooms to consume the body and remove toxins as it decomposes.
I’ve never particularly enjoyed the thought of spending eternity trapped in a box, floating in a gooey mass of embalming fluid and putrefaction. I mean, if I could afford an extravagant, pyramid-shaped crypt with an interactive tour of my mortal remains and/or a mysterious (but ultimately meaningless) undecipherable code to keep people guessing for centuries to come…I might consider it.

Otherwise, I would prefer to become a tree.

Or maybe some fungus.

Thanks to the growing movement toward green burial, there is hope. Jae Rhim Lee and Mike Ma, founders of the Coeio company, created the Infinity Death Suit to provide an eco-friendly alternative to standard burial that would remove the 200+ toxins from the body as it returned to the earth.

The Infinity Burial Suit uses mushrooms to aid decomposition

The fibers of the suit are woven with a strain of spores hand-picked for their voracious appetite for human flesh. The body is placed in the suit and buried within 24 hours, allowing early decomposition to activate the spores.

From the company’s website:

Unlike conventional burial and cremation, they do not use harsh/toxic chemicals, pollute the environment, or waste precious natural resources. The Infinity Burial products also go a step beyond other green burial options, by cleansing and purifying toxins that accumulate in the body. If left unabated, these toxins end up contaminating the surrounding environment.

A special strain of fungus removes toxins from the body as it decomposes

Learn more about the Infinity Burial Suit for you or your pet right here.

via Mysterious Universe

Article originally appeared on Cult Of Weird.

ScrewyMushroom Death Suit: Funerals Go Fungal
read more

Bizarre Insurance Claims

Britain’s most bizarre insurance claims include damage caused by a BADGER locked in a shed and a baby vomiting on a laptop during a Skype call

  • Insurance provider RIAS has revealed its top 10 most bizarre claims
  • A snail devoured £78-worth of carpet at the home of a 73-year-old man
  • 71-year-old also received a pay out after a badger ate its way out of a shed

Insurance provider RIAS has published its top 10 list of most bizarre claims in the last year. Among them was a man who claimed after a badger damaged his shed, gnawing its way out after becoming trapped inside.

The list of bizarre insurance claims was compiled by specialist insurance provider RIAS from the almost 400,000 successful cases in 2012-13.  Peter Corfield, Managing Director at RIAS said: ‘While we go out of our way to ensure that our homes and gardens are safe and secure, sometimes it’s the most unlikely events that can end up causing real damage.  ‘Not all claims are straightforward and sometimes we do see some bizarre scenarios. but, saying that, babies and animals are often the culprits.’

1. A 71-year-old woman from Bath locked a badger in her shed, which then managed to bash a hole in the wall to escape.
2. After seeing a dog on the TV, a dog in Galashiels tried to jump into the screen after it.
3. A small child spilt a glass of coke on his grandad’s laptop. Drying it with a hairdryer melted the keys, causing £239 worth of damage.
4. A grandfather in Guildford held his baby grandson up to show him off over Skype. The baby then threw up on the laptop causing £437 worth of damage.
5. Wind blew a 62-year-old’s glasses off his face, which were then immediately run over by a car, resulting in £469 worth of damage.
6. A trapped squirrel in the garage of an 86-year-old woman from Exeter managed to crack a window and escape.
7. A snail ate £78 worth of carpet in the home of a 73-year-old man from Preston.
8. A pigeon fell down a chimney and flew into a house, damaging the carpet, ornaments and sofa to the tune of more than £8,000
9. A seven-month-old puppy in Cardiff stole a one litre bottle of oil from the kitchen, dragged it to the living room and chewed it on the sofa, causing £953 worth of damage
10. A deer fell into the swimming pool of a 74-year-old man from Guildford, damaging the cover.

Article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.

ScrewyBizarre Insurance Claims
read more

Unbelievable Medical Mistakes

1. The Fertility Clinic that used the wrong sperm

When Nancy Andrews, of Commack, N.Y., became pregnant after an in vitro fertilization procedure at a New York fertility clinic, she and her husband expected a new addition to their family. What they did not expect was a child whose skin was significantly darker than that of either parent. Subsequent DNA tests suggested that doctors at New York Medical Services for Reproductive Medicine accidentally used another man’s sperm to inseminate Nancy Andrews’ eggs.

The couple has since raised Baby Jessica, who was born Oct. 19, 2004, as their own, according to wire reports. But the couple still filed a malpractice suit against the owner of the clinic, as well as the embryologist who allegedly mixed up the samples.

2. Received the wrong heart and lungs, then died

17-year-old Jésica Santillán died 2 weeks after receiving the heart and lungs of a patient whose blood type did not match hers. Doctors at the Duke University Medical Center failed to check the compatibility before surgery began. . After a rare second transplant operation to attempt to rectify the error, she suffered brain damage and complications that subsequently hastened her death.

Santillán, a Mexican immigrant, had come to the United States three years before to seek medical treatment for a life-threatening heart condition. The heart-lung transplant that surgeons at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., hoped would improve this condition instead put her in greater danger; Santillán, who had type-O blood, had received the organs from a type-A donor.

The error sent the patient into a comalike state, and she died shortly after an attempt to switch the organs back out for compatible ones failed. The hospital blamed human error for the death, along with a lack of safeguards to ensure a compatible transplant. According to reports, Duke reached an agreement on an undisclosed settlement with the family. Neither the hospital nor the family is allowed to comment on the case.

3. A $200,000 testicle

In yet another case of a wrongful operation, surgeons mistakenly removed the healthy right testicle of 47-year-old Air Force veteran Benjamin Houghton. The patient had been complaining of pain and shrinkage of his left testicle so doctors decided to schedule surgery to remove it due to cancer fears. However, the veteran’s medical records suggest a series of missteps — from an error on the consent form to a failure on the part of medical personnel to mark the proper surgical site before the procedure. The error, which took place at the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center, spurred a $200,000 lawsuit from Houghton and his wife.

4. A 13-Inch souvenir

Donald Church, 49, had a tumor in his abdomen when he arrived at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle in June 2000. When he left, the tumor was gone — but a metal retractor had taken its place. Doctors admitted to leaving the 13-inch-long retractor in Church’s abdomen by mistake. It was not the first such incident at the medical center; four other such occurrences had been documented at the hospital between 1997 and 2000. Fortunately, surgeons were able to remove the retractor shortly after it was discovered, and Church experienced no long-term health consequences from the mistake. The hospital agreed to pay Church $97,000.

5. An open heart invasive procedure… on the wrong patient

Joan Morris (a pseudonym) is a 67-year-old woman admitted to a teaching hospital for cerebral angiography. The day after that procedure, she mistakenly underwent an invasive cardiac electrophysiology study. After angiography, the patient was transferred to another floor rather than returning to her original bed. Discharge was planned for the following day. The next morning, however, the patient was taken for a open heart procedure. The patient had been on the operating table for an hour. Doctors had made an incision in her groin, punctured an artery, threaded in a tube and snaked it up into her heart (a procedure with risks of bleeding, infection, heart attack and stroke). That was when the phone rang and a doctor from another department asked “what are you doing with my patient?” There was nothing wrong with her heart. The cardiologist working on the woman checked her chart, and saw that he was making an awful mistake. The study was aborted, and she was returned to her room in stable condition.

6. Hospital makes a wrong-sided brain surgery… for the third time in a year

For the third time on the same year, doctors at Rhode Island Hospital have operated on the wrong side of a patient’s head. The most recent incident occurred Nov. 23 2007. An 82-year-old woman required an operation to stop bleeding between her brain and her skull. A neurosurgeon at the hospital began a surgery by drilling the right side of the patient’s head, even though a CT scan showed bleeding on the left side, according to local reports. The resident reportedly caught his mistake early, after which he closed the initial hole and proceeded on the left side of the patient’s head. The patient was listed in fair condition on Sunday.

The case echoes of a similar mistake last February, in which a different doctor operated on the wrong side of a patient’s head. And last August, an 86-year-old man died three weeks after a surgeon at Rhode Island Hospital accidentally operated on the wrong side of his head.

7. The Surgeon who removed the wrong leg

In what was, perhaps, the most publicized case of a surgical mistake in its time, a Tampa (Florida) surgeon mistakenly removed the wrong leg of his patient, 52-year-old Willie King, during an amputation procedure in February 1995.

It was later revealed that a chain of errors before the surgery culminated in the wrong leg being prepped for the procedure. While the surgeon’s team realized in the middle of the procedure that they were operating on the wrong leg, it was already too late, and the leg was removed. As a result of the error, the surgeon’s medical license was suspended for six months and he was fined $10,000. University Community Hospital in Tampa, the medical center where the surgery took place, paid $900,000 to King and the surgeon involved in the case paid an additional $250,000 to King.

8. The healthy kidney removed by mistake

In St. Louis Park, Minnesota, a patient was submitted at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital to have one of his kidneys removed because it had a tumor believed to be cancerous. Instead, doctors removed the healthy one.

“The discovery that this was the wrong kidney was made the next day when the pathologist examined the material and found no evidence of any malignancy,” said Samuel Carlson, M.D. and Park Nicollet Chief Medical Officer. The potentially cancerous kidney remained intact and functioning. For privacy and family’s request, no details about the patient were released.

9. Wide-Awake Surgery led to his suicide

A West Virginia man’s family claims inadequate anesthetic during surgery allowed him to feel every slice of the surgeon’s scalpel – a trauma they believe led him to take his own life two weeks later. Sherman Sizemore was admitted to Raleigh General Hospital in Beckley, W.Va., Jan. 19, 2006 for exploratory surgery to determine the cause of his abdominal pain. But during the operation, he reportedly experienced a phenomenon known as anesthetic awareness — a state in which a surgical patient is able to feel pain, pressure or discomfort during an operation, but is unable to move or communicate with doctors.

According to the complaint, anesthesiologists administered the drugs to numb the patient, but they failed to give him the general anesthetic that would render him unconscious until 16 minutes after surgeons first cut into his abdomen. Family members say the 73-year-old Baptist minister was driven to kill himself by the traumatic experience of being awake during surgery but unable to move or cry out in pain.

10. Not so funny: wrong artery bypassed

Two months after a double bypass heart operation that was supposed to save his life, comedian and former Saturday Night Live cast member Dana Carvey got some disheartening news: the cardiac surgeon had bypassed the wrong artery. It took another emergency operation to clear the blockage that was threatening to kill the 45-year-old funnyman and father of two young kids. Responding to a $7.5 million lawsuit Carvey brought against him, the surgeon said he’d made an honest mistake because Carvey’s artery was unusually situated in his heart. But Carvey didn’t see it that way: “It’s like removing the wrong kidney. It’s that big a mistake,” the entertainer told People magazine.

ScrewyUnbelievable Medical Mistakes
read more

Airbnb Is Giving You the Chance to Sleep Surrounded by Sharks

A contest organised by Airbnb is offering three lucky winners the chance to spend a night in the company of full-grown sharks. The winners and their guests will get access to a transparent glass bedroom submerged in the 33-foot deep Paris Aquarium inhabited by 35 sharks.

Interested applicants, who must be 18 years or older and in good health, can apply for the contest through theAirbnb website. “On the 11, 12, and 13 of April, the Paris Aquarium opens its doors for a night of total immersion in a room full of sharks,” the website states. “And not just any room: you will sleep in a circular bed, with a breathtaking view of the world of sharks.” If it’s any reassurance, the unique bedroom was apparently tested for durability in the waters of the Mediterranean.

The unusual event will be hosted by free diver, photographer, and shark enthusiast Fred Buyle, and a marine biologist will provide the winners with an exclusive course on sharks – their mysterious lives and their role in the ocean’s delicate ecosystem.

According to Buyle, “Sharks are really, really misunderstood. People need to understand that sharks are not dangerous, they are only dangerous behaviors with sharks. It’s a great opportunity to show people that you can swim with sharks, you can be with sharks and nothing bad happens, but also that we need to protect the sharks because they are like crucial for the ecosystem. If sharks disappear, we disappear, basically.”

Upon arrival, the winners will first be taken to their room for presentations, followed by dinner at the shark tunnel and a night among the sharks. A twin bed, linens, soap, toilet paper, and shampoo are all included in the package, as well as breakfast the next morning. The stay is completely free, as is the travel arrangement to and from Paris.

Airbnb-shark-tank2

Applications must also include a message addressed to the judges. In 50 to 500 characters, applicants must explain why they’re the perfect candidate for the event. The choice of languages include English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese. In case of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, the word limit is between 50 and 300. Of course, an Airbnb account is a mandatory requirement.

If selected, guests will be forbidden from diving or swimming in the aquarium, and will be required to keep their hands and feet indoors at all times. Selfies are not allowed after dark because sharks are sensitive to light. And although it’s not compulsory, the organisers advise against watching movies like Jaws or Les Dents de la Mer, before checking in.

Article originally appeared on Oddity Central.

ScrewyAirbnb Is Giving You the Chance to Sleep Surrounded by Sharks
read more

Japanese Cafe Creates Delicious-Looking Salad Cakes to Make Dieting Less Depressing

Japanese food stylist Mitsuki Moriyasu is on a mission to prove that salads can look much better than they taste. Last year, she introduced the world to the concept of the ‘Vegiedeco Salad’, an exquisite preparation of vegetables made in the likeness of a cake. The hybrid dish was initially featured on the menu of a bistro in Nagoya, but it got so popular that it is now being exclusively showcased at a brand new cafe in the city.

The savory dish consists of colorful layers of vegetables, sandwiched between two soybean-flour sponge and covered in a tofu or cream cheese frosting blended with vegetables for natural coloring. The end result is a sinful-looking salad-cake that is not just a visual treat but also packs a nutritious punch. Containing very little to no sugar, each salad also includes a good amount of roots and peels for fiber.

salad-cakes2

A wide range of these cakes are now available at The Vegiedeco Cafe, which opened its doors on April 5. The offerings are dainty and meticulously decorated with great attention to detail. A slice of salad cake starts at 735 yen ($6.50), which comes with a special koji (Japanese sake starter mold) dressing. Diners can enhance their meal with a slice of gluten-free bread (resembling a tea cake, of course) made of a strain of ancient rice, and a cup of healthy Vegie Drop Tea (loaded with phytochemicals).

salad-cakes6

salad-cakes5

The Vegiedeco Cafe has a seasonal menu, so it’s sure to be a hit among health-conscious folks in Japan. After all, who could refuse a slice of cake that’s both pretty and healthy?

Article originally appeared on Oddity Central.

ScrewyJapanese Cafe Creates Delicious-Looking Salad Cakes to Make Dieting Less Depressing
read more

Identical Twin Brothers Who Married Identical Twin Sisters to Get Plastic Surgery So They Can Tell Each Other Apart

Problems in identifying identical twins makes for excellent comedy, but in real life it can be quite frustrating, especially if you have two pairs of identical twins married to each other. That’s why these newlywed twins from China have decided to get plastic surgery in a bid to make themselves less identical and thus avoid the undesirable complications that could arise from failing to tell each other apart.

Zhao Xin and his twin brother Zhao Xun, from Yuncheng in China’s Shanxi Province, have been confounding relatives and friends ever since they started dating twin sisters Yun Fei and Yun Yang from a neighboring village. Although they went to the same high school in Shanxi, they only got together last year after being introduced by a matchmaker. A month later, the four of them were engaged.

Both pairs of identical twins look so alike that it’s apparently impossible to tell them apart, even by their voices.  On their wedding day, their guests and even their own parents had a tough time identifying them, checking and double checking that they weren’t marrying the wrong partners.

identical-twins

Photo: Ti Gong

But the tipping point occurred just a few days after the wedding, when one brother found himself reaching out to caress his sister-in-law’s hand, mistaking her for his wife! On another occasion, Zhao Xin was hit by sister-in-law Yun Yang, who had meant to playfully punch her husband. To prevent such awkward situations from occurring in the future, the young couples decided to spend their honeymoon consulting plastic surgeons about , much to the relief of their families.

identical-twins2

According to news reports, the quartet, all aged 22, have visited a hospital in Shanghai, where a team of surgeons and dermatologists are working on their case. After examining their faces and skin, they’ve recommended corrective microsurgery on the forehead and nose – in order to make the twins distinguishable, but still similar.

Article originally appeared on Oddity Central.

ScrewyIdentical Twin Brothers Who Married Identical Twin Sisters to Get Plastic Surgery So They Can Tell Each Other Apart
read more

Mexican farmer builds pyramid after being ordered by alien

Raymundo Corona says he erected the 22 feet stone pyramid temple after being visited by an alien who was a tall man calling himself Herulayka, who had honey-coloured eyes, white hair and from a planet called Nefilin 20 times the size of Earth.

He told a local paper the alien said he was from the constellation of Orion.

He built the pyramid close to Monclova in the state of Coahila near the Mexico-US border, despite being warned he would be taken for a drunk or a drug addict if his story ever came out.

Pyramid

Mr Corona, 33 when he claims the alien visited him in 1984, said: “He told me to build the temple in the form of a pyramid.

“When I asked him why it had to be in the form of a pyramid, he said it was because it should be like my faith, something that winds and storms couldn’t move and was always pointing upwards.”

Recalling the moment he asked his mysterious visitor his name, Mr Corona told Mexican daily La Vanguardia that Herulayka had warned him: “Many people will laugh at you, defame you and say it was an act of insanity or something he did during a bender, it was an act of a madman or a drug addict.

“He told me he came from the constellation of Orion, from a place called Nefilin which is a place 20 times larger than Earth where people are similar to human beings.

“He was a tall man with honey-coloured eyes and white hair down to the ground. He was barefoot and wore a tunic tied with a rope.”

Mr Corona, whose wife was less than a day away from giving birth to his daughter at the time, says he had seen the alien in dreams before their meeting in person.

He said the extraterrestrial had claimed humans were destroying their own planet and should wake up to the fact they must look after it like a child because it gave them what they needed for their own survival.

Monclova is less than 600 miles from Roswell in New Mexico where a US Air Force surveillance balloon crashed in 1947, sparking rumours it was actually an alien spacecraft.

Mexico is said to be the most active country in the world for UFO and alien sightings.

Last summer video footage emerged allegedly showing an “alien humanoid” on the roof of a building in Nuevo Laredo, northern Mexico.

Viewers claimed the clip proved once and for all extra terrestrials are visiting Earth while others branded it a “pointless hoax.”

Article originally appeared on The Express.

ScrewyMexican farmer builds pyramid after being ordered by alien
read more

Dead Puerto Rico man is propped up in a chair at his own funeral

Now that’s resting in peace! Dead Puerto Rican man is propped up in a chair holding a cigarette with his eyes OPEN at his own funeral

  • Fernando de Jesus Diaz Beato, 26, was shot dead outside his home in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 3
  • His family chose to bid him farewell ‘just as he was in life’
  • A funeral home known for unconventional services sat Diaz Beato in a chair dressed in sports gear with his legs crossed and holding a cigarette
  • They also decided to keep his eyes open ‘as a surprise’ to the family 

    A Puerto Rican man who was repeatedly shot and killed earlier this month has been laid to rest ‘just as he was in life’ in an extremely unconventional funeral.

    Fernando de Jesus Diaz Beato, 26, was shot 15 times in the Villa Carolina neighborhood of San Juan on March 3, with police saying they have no leads on the crime.

    Describing him as a ‘happy and very active person’, the family decided against a coffin for the funeral service in favor of a chair, sitting Diaz Beato with his legs crossed, dressed in his favorite clothes and with a cigarette between his fingers.

    Finally, as a ‘surprise’, the funeral home chose to leave his eyes open.

    The body of San Juan was seated with his eyes open, and clothed in sports gear while holding a cigarette

    The funeral home admitted they 'surprised' the family by keeping Diaz Beato's eyes open
    They also dressed him in the hat and glasses that were his signature look

    The funeral home admitted they ‘surprised’ the family by keeping Diaz Beato’s eyes open for the service, while dressing him in his favourite clothes, finished with the hat and glasses that were his signature

    Designed to look like he was sitting in a living room, Diaz Beato's legged were crossed and a cigarette was placed between his fingers 

    Designed to look like he was sitting in a living room, Diaz Beato’s legged were crossed and a cigarette was placed between his fingers

    'We didn't want to see him lying in the coffin,' sister Ihizz Diaz Beato said at the funeral (pictured)

    ‘We didn’t want to see him lying in the coffin,’ sister Ihizz Diaz Beato said at the funeral (pictured)

    ‘Everybody is really surprised because seeing him like that is like seeing him as if he were alive,’ one of Diaz Beato’s sisters said in a video obtained by Live Leak.

    Another sister, Ihizz Diaz Beato, said: ‘We decided to embalm him like this because he was a very happy person, very active and we want to remember him as he was.’

    The final effect was if Diaz Beato was sitting and staring at the family and friends who gathered at the funeral.

    Marin Funeral Home, in Rio Piedras, has become something of a pioneer of such services in San Juan.

    This is the ninth unconventional funeral they have done – but the first where the eyes of the deceased have been left open.

    'I think that this time was the most impressive reaction to any of the work we have done,' said Damaris Marin (right) the owner of Marin Funeral Home

    ‘I think that this time was the most impressive reaction to any of the work we have done,’ said Damaris Marin (right) the owner of Marin Funeral Home

    The effect was if Diaz Beato was sitting and staring at the family and friends who gathered at the funeral

    The effect was if Diaz Beato was sitting and staring at the family and friends who gathered at the funeral

    Damaris Marin, the owner of Marin Funeral Home, said they worked closely with the family to achieve the desired effect.

    ‘This time is different because he is seated with his legs crossed but, this is the first dead man in history with his eyes open,’ she said.

    ‘We have seen that the families wish to see the dead men just as they were when they were alive.

    ‘We gave [the family] a surprise by leaving the eyes of the dead man open.

    ‘I think that this time was the most impressive reaction to any of the work we have done.’

    The deceased loved to sit in the dining room of his house on a wooden chair and smoke, his family said 

    The deceased loved to sit in the dining room of his house on a wooden chair and smoke, his family said

    The murder of Diaz Beato outside of his San Juan home last week remains under investigation 

    The murder of Diaz Beato outside of his San Juan home last week remains under investigation

    While the result shocked the family, they said they were happy with how Diaz Beato looked.

    ‘We didn’t want to see him lying in the coffin,’ sister Ihizz Diaz Beato said.

    ‘We wanted something different. And also, we wanted him to be remembered by his friends and family the same way he was when he was alive.’

    Diaz Beato was shot outside his home on March 3. Police continue to investigate.

    Article originally appeared on the Daily Mail.

ScrewyDead Puerto Rico man is propped up in a chair at his own funeral
read more

The 1971 Stanford prison study

Arguably the most famous experiment in the history of psychology, the 1971 Stanford prison study put a microscope on how social situations can affect human behavior. The researchers, led by psychologist Philip Zimbardo, set up a mock prison in the basement of the Stanford psych building and selected 24 undergraduates (who had no criminal record and were deemed psychologically healthy) to act as prisoners and guards. Researchers then observed the prisoners (who had to stay in the cells 24 hours a day) and guards (who shared eight-hour shifts) using hidden cameras.

The experiment, which was scheduled to last for two weeks, had to be cut short after just six days due to the guards’ abusive behavior — in some cases they even inflicted psychological torture — and the extreme emotional stress and anxiety exhibited by the prisoners.

“The guards escalated their aggression against the prisoners, stripping them naked, putting bags over their heads, and then finally had them engage in increasingly humiliating sexual activities,” Zimbardo told American Scientist. “After six days I had to end it because it was out of control — I couldn’t really go to sleep at night without worrying what the guards could do to the prisoners.”

Article originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

ScrewyThe 1971 Stanford prison study
read more

Incorruptible Saints

   Incorruptible Saintsimage2
The incorrupt body of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, wax portraiture over bone, San Crisogono, Rome. (All photos: Elizabeth Harper)

The Italian nun grimaced at my camera, reviewing the photo that she had just snapped of me. We had to take another, she explained. The shriveled corpse to my left was beautiful. My face had room for improvement.

So it goes in the world of the incorrupt, a group of saints whose bodies supposedly won’t decompose. This particular corpse belonged to St. Paula Frassinetti, displayed at the Convent of St. Dorotea in Rome. In the popular imagination, they’re like sleeping beauties, but Paula, who’s been dead for 133 years, is shriveled and brown inside her crystal casket. This paradox is what makes the incorrupt fascinating.

image3

The wax effigy of St. Carlo da Sezze. His relics are enshrined under the altar behind his effigy, San Francesco d’Assisi a Ripa Grande, Rome.

Most people think incorruptibility is permanent, but another incorrupt saint, Francesca Romana, disabuses that notion. She’s little more than a skeleton dressed in a nun’s habit. Francesca was deemed incorrupt a few months after her death in 1440. When her tomb was reopened two centuries later, she was nothing but bone. According to Heather Pringle, who investigated research conducted by a team of pathologists from the University of Pisa, opening a tomb can disrupt the microclimates that leads to spontaneous preservation, so even the body of a saint can decompose after it’s discovered.

image6

The incorrupt body of St. Robert Bellarmine, Sant’Ignazio di Loyola a Campo Marzio, Rome.

This is surprisingly unproblematic for believers. The Church doesn’t count incorruptibility as an official Vatican-approved miracle anymore. It’s more like a favorable, if fading, sign from God.

Incorruptibility also isn’t binary, something you either are or aren’t. It can affect just one body part, lending extra significance to a heart, a tongue or hand. There are shades and degrees within the ranks of the incorrupt that make their numbers impossible to tally. The best account comes from Joan Carroll Cruz, a housewife who took it upon herself to research and count every incorrupt saint. Though secular researchers find her too credulous, her book published in 1977, The Incorruptibles, remains the one of the most complete lists available.

image4

The incorrupt body of St. Camillus de Lellis. His skeleton is not in the effigy, but housed in a compartment underneath, La Maddalena, Rome.

image1
The relics of St Wittoria, the skeleton of a catacomb martyr, covered in gauze and dressed. Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome.

Adding to the confusion around incorrupt saints are the ones who seem perfect, but in fact are too good to be true. St. Victoria, a fragmented skeleton, was hauled out of the Roman catacombs at the mere suggestion she might be a martyr. In her lifetime, she would not recognize her name, story, even post-postmortem outfit changes: Those were pieced together or invented entirely by the Church.

image5

The tomb of St. Cecilia, the first incorrupt saint. This famous effigy depicts the position her body was found in. Note the wound in her neck from her martyrdom., Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome.

On the opposite bank of the Tiber, the incorrupt body of Blessed Anna Maria Taigi rests in the church of San Crisogono. From afar she looks ideally incorrupt but visitors who get close can see that the wrinkles in her face are formed in wax. A few dozen black hairs reach out from her blonde curls, signaling something more macabre underneath. She, too, is a skeleton.

image7

The incorrupt body of St. Francesca Romana, Santa Francesca Romana, also called Santa Maria Nova, Rome.

It’s tempting to find these lapses in realism and historical provenance and find satisfaction in that detective work. But the preservation of the incorrupt is often meant to be noticed. The sacristan, an officer in charge of overseeing Anna Maria’s sacred relics (what he sweetly called her “little old lady things”) explained that the wax on her isn’t designed to trick people. It’s to preserve an honest impression of her the moment she was discovered in her grave.

image8

The relics of St. Giovanni da Triora Santa Maria, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Rome.

image9

The incorrupt body of St. Paula Frassinetti, Convento di Santa Dorotea, Rome.

image10

The incorrupt body of St. Pope Pius V, Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.

Of course there are other, more abstract ways to preserve a body’s likeness, ones less likely to lead to accusations of trickery. St. Paula was given a bath in carbolic acid to help preserve her. Rome has several incorrupt men encased in silver, including Pope St. Pius V and St. Vincent Pallotti, as well as two women in white marble: St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Cecelia. As with Anna Maria Taigi, with scant information provided by the shrines, it’s difficult to know where the incorrupt end and where the effigies begin.

image11

image12
The wax effigy and relics of St. Victoria, the skeleton of a catacomb martyr with cutaways to show her relics. Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome.

Yet the mystery is part of how the incorrupt draw us in with their uncanny sleeping faces, as if the twins Hypnos and Thanatos were playing tricks by switching places. They are somehow both a memento mori and the opposite of the anonymous grinning skull. We will all die, but maybe, if we’re very good, we can linger in this world.

image13

The incorrupt arm of St. Francis Xavier, Il Gesu, Rome.

Article originally appeared on Atlas Obscura and was written by Elizabeth Harper

 

ScrewyIncorruptible Saints
read more