Incorruptibility is a phenomenon whereby a dead body fails to decay, even after long periods of time. There are many examples of incorruptibility in historical records. For example, in 1678 the body of a nun called Mother Mary Margaret, also known as Mary Wake, was placed beside other bodies in a crypt in Antwerp in what today is Belgium. Thirty-eight years later, while work was being done on the crypt, those who looked at the bodies noticed that while most showed the usual signs of decay, Mother Mary Margaret’s still had all of its flesh and organs intact. Some Christians say that when a body is found to be incorruptible in this way, it means that the person was specially blessed by God. This belief is particularly common among devout Catholics, who say that saints’ bodies never decay. Scientists, however, say that some unknown natural phenomenon must be responsible for cases of incorruptibility. They point out that environmental factors, such as temperature, have been shown to affect the rate at which a body decays.
The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning