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The bodies of these holy saints were miraculously preserved after death, preparing them for the glory of the resurrection.
The natural decomposition that occurs after death can happen faster or slower, depending on the circumstances, but inevitably, as the priest says on Ash Wednesday (quoted from the book of Genesis), “You are dust, and to dust, you shall return.”
However, the Catholic Church has recognized that on rare occasions certain bodies of saints have not suffered the process of decomposition. This is deemed a miraculous event and is most dramatic in cases where the saint has been buried for decades or centuries and their body remains fully intact. A saint’s body is always investigated before they are canonized and even though the ultimate decision to canonize someone does not rest on incorruptibility, it certainly helps the cause.
According to Father William Saunders, this incorruptibility “remains a sign of the holiness of the life of the individual” and “is indicative of the person’s mortal remains being prepared for the glorious resurrection of the body.”
Here are five such remarkable saints who look like they died yesterday, but have been in the heavenly embrace of God for many years.
Saint Vincent de Paul (1581 – 1660) “Charity is the cement which binds communities to God and persons to one another.”
Saint Bernadette (1844 – 1879) “The Blessed Virgin used me like a broom, and then put me back in my place.”
St. Catherine Labouré (1806 – 1876) “One must see God in everyone.”
Saint John XXIII (1881 – 1963) “From the saints I must take the substance, not the accidents of their virtues.