Is the Pope Incorruptible?

The question that seems to be on everyone's mind is what's going on with the Pope. Why isn't his body showing signs of decomposition? He's been dead for almost a week now, and most bodies at this stage would be putrefying. But not the Pope. Has he been embalmed? The Vatican says no. But the experts seem to think that some kind of embalming, if only partial, must have occurred. Could it be that his body is being kept chilled? If so, the cooling apparatus is pretty well concealed. Or is his body 'incorruptible', meaning that it will never decompose as is said to be the case with the bodies of saints? I'm going to go with the experts and speculate that some kind of embalming must have been done, despite what the Vatican says.
Update: And while I'm on the subject of the Pope, if you feel like you have what it takes to be the next Pope, why not apply for the job. Only Roman Catholics need apply, so I'm out of luck.

Death Religion

Posted on Thu Apr 07, 2005


Of course he hasn't been embalmed, the Vatican says so

In the same way the Aga Khan never actually drank alcohol - it turned to water as it passed his lips.
(I always wondered why he didn't just drink water)

In the same vein, chickens grow on trees, Toffee apples are the standard currency in Java
And the President is the most intelligent man that ever lived.
Posted by Sharruma  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  11:37 PM
That "feeding tube" they had running through his nose? Formaldehyde!
Posted by andychrist  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  11:45 PM
Yes, we believe everything we're told, even if it contradicts itself...

That first article states that's it's been pretty cool at the Vatican. However, could they have concealed a refrigeration unit inside the catafalque?

Sharruma, you're right on the mark with that last line! LOL
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  11:48 PM
Chickens grow not on trees, Sharruma.

Spaghetti, on the other hand...

Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Thu Apr 07, 2005  at  11:54 PM
Actually, Alex, is says you only have to be catholic or deeply religious (so does that mean we could have a muslim pope?) hmmm
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  12:06 AM
Er, you guys do know that you have to be a cardinal to become pope, right?
Posted by Katherine  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  12:28 AM
Arghhh! I'm so stressed out lately...need to think before I post!

To be fair, you don't actually HAVE to be a cardinal. But it's pretty much become tradition that a pope will be elected from the cardinals, and it would be a huge shock if the electing body of cardinals had a majority voting in someone who wasn't cardinal. But it COULD happen.
Posted by Katherine  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  12:35 AM
No decompopesition? See what red wine will do for you
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  12:40 AM
If I become Pope, I want to be known as Pope Eel, Pocket Fisherman
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  01:00 AM
I saw or read a news story that said, rather matter-of-factly, that he was refrigerated. Yes, that part's true.

OK, now here comes the joke! So, the Pope's refrigerated, huh? You know what that makes him? A Pope-sicle!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  01:12 AM
perhaps he's been baked dry... a Pontificake
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  01:27 AM
I just wonder...50 years from now on, would there be any urban legend about this case? Like, refrigerated Pope, deep fried Pope or they had been giving him formaldehyde when he was grave:P
Posted by Jellyfish Marine  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  01:59 AM
You have to be a cardinal?

Damn, I'm a bluejay.

And I guess Woody Woodpecker is out of the running, as well as Tweety-Bird.

Popesicle PDF

They also advertise Popecorn and Popepouri.

"It smells like jesus in the bathroom, and the pope in the kitchen, thanks to my new popepouri and candles!"

Too bad it's fake. I'd like to try the Popecorn. Better than that Poopcorn I tried...
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  02:02 AM
What i've heard on the news is that after the popes's death one the preparations is to remove his organs and place them in special vials or so. Thus, if his organs have been replaced, either way he has been embalmed.... so I think
Posted by BSantos  in  Portugal  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  05:09 AM
re: his organs... the last Pope that did it was in like, 1914, then that Pope stopped the custom of removing organs.

re: who can become pope. Laypersons can become pope, but they do have to become a priest in the days beforehand. I can't remember the last time it happened, in the mid 1500's I think.
Posted by Winona  in  USA  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  07:44 AM
Since so many people claim that God speaks to them, why don't they just let God decide? When the lucky person gets the word, they can tell the rest of us.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  08:58 AM
Any Catholic can be elected Pope (or Bishop, for that matter). In previous centuries, not all of them were priests before being named popes (I presume they were ordained as part of the Pope-making process).
You will notice, of course, that this means the Pope doesn't have to be male.
Could a non-Catholic be elected Pope? It's pretty hard to imagine this happening (remember that it's the Cardinals who elect the new Pope), but I don't know of any church canon against it.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  10:37 AM
Cap'n Al:
The problem, so far as I can tell, is that God doesn't seem to say the same thing to all the people who hear God speaking to them.
There's also a bit of a "caller ID" problem whenever you get a message purportedly from God.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  10:42 AM
You can elect a Bishop?

I'd like to elect mine, he's been suffering from repeated terrible beatings for YEARS, it's time he had something good happen to him.

Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  11:13 AM
God wants me to be pope
He told me it doesn't matter that I"m not catholic
He also told me it's ok that I don't believe in him
He also told me that his real name is Colin
For some reason declaring this from the great Colin would be proof enough.
Posted by Sharruma  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  11:30 AM
Slate has a take the embalmed/not embalmed story here:
Posted by Frederick J. Barnett  in  Sorrento, LA  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  11:39 AM

Didn't realize the article was already linked to. Sorry.
Posted by Frederick J. Barnett  in  Sorrento, LA  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  11:44 AM
It's my opinion that whenever discussing any sort of Catholic priest / authority figure they really shouldn't use the word... incorruptable. It just seems too ironic to me...

Posted by Mark-N-Isa  in  Midwest USA  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  02:27 PM
Perhaps "incorrigible" would be more apt?

And why did they have to encase him inside of three different coffins-- what, were they afraid he might escape?

BTW, thanks Alex for a providing this space where we might all gather to pay our disrespects.
Posted by andychrist  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  03:09 PM
According to my pastor, her sister's body was (or is?) incorruptible. Their family is from New Orleans, where most deceased people are buried in above-ground tombs or family vaults. When my pastor's sister died, her body was interred in the family crypt. Some years later, they opened the crypt again to install another body, and found that the sister's remains had not decayed. This was said to have something to do with medication she took during her final illness.
"What was she taking, formaldehyde?" I asked. However, nobody seemed to remember exactly what the medicine was.

In the middle ages, having an incorrupt cadaver was regarded as a sign of holiness. The legends around a number of saints claim that their bodies never decayed. Several years ago, I visited the Church of Saint Elizabeth in Marburg, Germany, which is said to be the oldest Gothic cathedral in Germany. The body of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary was originally placed under the altar of the church. A few centuries later, Church authorities decided to move her remains to a cemetery nearby. When they opened the crypt, her body was supposedly in a state of perfect preservation, with no sign of decomposition. (She was still dead, though). Subsequently, they apparently lost track of exactly where they had buried her, so I guess nobody can check on how that body is doing these days.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  03:12 PM
Here's some more info on ostensibly incorrupt bodies:

I notice, though, that there seems to be a good deal of fudging going on. In some cases only parts of the bodies (such as a heart or brain) resist decay. In others, it's explained that the body used to be incorrupt, but it isn't now. In the case of Saint Clare of Assisi, it's noted that when she was disinterred, her clothing and flesh had turned to dust, but "her skeleton was incorrupt" (??). Some of the "incorrupt" bodies on display at various shrines, when you read the fine print, turn out to be wax figures of the saints with bones deposited inside.
So if you define "incorruptible" loosely enough, pretty much any body of which any part is still somewhat extant would fit the standard.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  03:58 PM
I often used to visit a grave of a woman who was supposedly incorrupt. You can see info & pics at:

This is the same cemetary where Al Capone is buried and is supposed to appear. My Mum and I got locked in the cemetary there once after hours, but that's another story.

To clarify why I used to visit the grave: One of my hobbies is grave rubbings.... boy, I'm starting to sound like one weird chick on here, aren't I?
Posted by Winona  in  USA  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  04:06 PM
Grave rubbings aren't completely wierd, well maybe, but what I mean is you're not alone in your hobby. I went to college with a girl who does the same thing. My first job after getting my degree was as a botonist for the city of Fishers. (North Indianapolis suburb) One day while out driving around, just killing time, me and another employee were goofing off on some back country roads just off I-69 about 5 miles north of town. We got out of the truck to "take a break" and while walking around I found a small cemetary on private property. Only two burials there, that were marked anyway. One of them died in like 1785 or something. So I called my friend and told her about it. She had since moved to Central Florida for work, and she came all the way back to rub a copy of it.
Posted by Mark-N-Isa  in  Midwest USA  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  04:24 PM
Oh awesome! I love finding the older graves that you can still get a decent rubbing off of. I might not travel that far to do it, but it would be neat! smile
There are some new ones here now that I've moved that I'm dying to do, I was just waiting till it warned up. Unfortunately now that I've got the little one I don't do it during mosquito season because of West Nile Virus so my season is kind of short these days....
Posted by Winona  in  USA  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  04:28 PM
"And why did they have to encase him inside of three different coffins-- what, were they afraid he might escape?"

Let's just say they aren't taking any chances.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Apr 08, 2005  at  04:44 PM
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