Saint Cecilia

I’m not sure if I’m daft or if I really heard this. When I was about 11 in Catholic school we had a music teacher who taught us about a new saint every day (Mrs. Edinburgh, are you reading this?). When she taught us about Saint Cecilia she said that one of her posthumus miracles was not decomposing. I remember Mrs. Edinburgh telling us that Cecilia was on display in Rome and you could view her perfectly-intact body. Also, I can swear seeing a picture of the tomb with Saint Cecilia behind glass. Can someone please give me some information on the subject so I don’t have to keep wondering if I’m crazy.

“Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true” -Albert Einstein

According to the “Oxford Dictionary of Saints” by David Farmer, she lived in the 3rd century. Her remains were being transported to a new church, or some such thing, and her tomb was opened in 1599. Her remains were found in perfect condition, no decomposition. When the air hit them, they disintegrated. There were statues made of her body lying on her side. You probably saw one of the statues.

I’m normally too polite to comment on misspellings, but sometimes they are to amusing to ignore. When you meant to spell “posthumous” but used “posthumus” (i.e., after topsoil) it occurred to me that if the body had not decomposed, it could not have been “post-humus” after all…

Oh so sue me! Topsoil, Life… whatever! Anyway, thanks for the clear-up even if everyone else knew what I meant!

“Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true” -Albert Einstein

What you are refering to in the case of Saint Cecilia are the so-called “incorruptibles”, 102 saints whose bodies do not decay after death. Some are claimed to still bleed, have soft flesh without any putrescence; indeed, they are said to smell like flowers. I refer you to for a remarkable description of the case of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes.

Another famous case is that of St. Francis Xavier, who, after his death, was placed in a coffin filled with lime so that his body would be consumed and his bones could be returned to Goa, Portugal. All were shocked when, two and a half months later, his body was exhumed and found to be in perfect condition; when a small piece of flesh was removed from his thigh, the wound bled. A full account can be found at

Whether you consider these accounts as historically accurate or merely hagiographic fabrications, there is no denying they make for a good spooky story.


“Equal Opportunity means everybody has the same chance at being incompetent.”
–Dr. Lawrence J. Peter