We all have heard about the incorruptible bodies within the Catholic Church tradition.

Was there any scientific explanation given to the Roman Catholic Church or did the Church give a scientific explanation for why we have found incorruptible bodies of some saints or people? How was it classified by the Church? Was it classified miraculous and if yes why the Catholic Church doesn't use this to prove the authenticity of faith in God and doesn't challenge the scientific community?

  • 1
    I see three separate questions in this question. You ask about a scientific explanation. That's a simple yes or no answer that could offer citations and sources. You then interleave a number of other questions and close with "why didn't someone do X?" Lastly, in your second two questions, what "it" are you referring to? What noun is "it" replacing? Mar 17, 2016 at 15:25
  • I concur that with @KorvinStarmast you're asking too many questions: "Does the Church classify the incorruptibility of certain saints' bodies as a miracle?" "Does the Church use miracles 'to prove the authenticity of faith in God'?" "Do miracles 'challenge the scientific community'?" Please make it more focused, or open up three separate questions.
    – Geremia
    Mar 17, 2016 at 16:34
  • @KorvinStarmast, all three questions go hand in hand. By answering my last question you will answer all of my questions.
    – Grasper
    Mar 17, 2016 at 18:11
  • @Grasper That isn't how it works, but I do appreciate your efforts to further clarify your intention. It is OK to ask more than one question of complicated topics. Jul 12, 2016 at 3:05
  • @Grasper cf. this answer to the recent question "Is partaking of the Holy Eucharist the key to incorruptibility of the saints?," especially the quote from Fr. Royo Marín, O.P.: "Assuming the supernaturality of the phenomenon, it will have to be explained from the theological viewpoint, by a type of anticipated incorruptibility of the glorified bodies…"
    – Geremia
    May 15, 2019 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


Not every saint is expected to have an incorruptible corpse. Although incorruptibility is recognized as supernatural, it is no longer counted as a miracle in the recognition of a saint (The Incorruptibles).

Embalmed bodies were not recognized as incorruptibles. For example, although the body of Pope John XXIII remained in a remarkably intact state after its exhumation, Church officials remarked that the body had been embalmed (Christianity Today) and additionally there was a lack of oxygen in his sealed triple coffin.

Incorruptibility is seen as distinct from the good preservation of a body, or from mummification. Incorruptible bodies are often said to have the odour of sanctity, exuding a sweet or floral, pleasant aroma.

Incorruptibilty is not reserved to the Catholic Church alone. There are a number of Orthodox Saints who have incorrupt bodies.

Nowadays the Catholic Church is striving to better understand why some Saints are preserved from corruption, thus seeing if the preservation is indeed miraculous or not. "These saints are in a class by themselves. Even though incorruptibility does not automatically confer sainthood upon the subject, it is still properly appreciated by the Church as a supernatural occurrences. The Church thus seeks the help of scientists and other professional to understand this question in a more modern light!

The lack of formal explanations on this subject seems to stem from the fact that this is an area of expertise for the scientific (professional) community and not the Church to investigate.

"Over the last 15 years, however, a new view of the Incorruptibles has begun to emerge. At the Vatican's request, Italian pathologists, chemists, and radiologists have been poring over the bodies of the ancient men and women interred in church reliquaries. Charged with gleaning new information about the lives of the saints and assisting in the conservation of sacred remains, they have also brought science to the altars of Europe's cathedrals. Already, they have examined more than two dozen saints and beati, shedding light on the mystery of their preservation. While some saints were clearly mummified by their devout followers, others were protected from decay by environmental conditions, raising new questions about incorruptibility. "What is a miracle?" asks Ezio Fulcheri, a pathologist at the University of Genoa and one of the leading researchers on the Incorruptibles. "It's something unexplainable, a special event that may occur in different ways." The causes may seem mysterious "but don't exclude [rare] natural processes that are different from the normal course of things." - The Incorruptibles.


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