Saints' bones.

edited December 1969 in Random Issues
Hey guys

I had this thought pretty much recently. Well, some people believe that the bones of Saints that are still available, are available cause of a miracle. But I always knew that bones never vanish... If I'm right about the non-vanishing theory, then why do we consider this a miracle and how can we know that these bones are from a Saint? (I refer to bones that have actually been found after many ages of their Saint's death.)

This is pretty much my question,

Thanks in advance and may God bless you all!


  • I am not sure what you mean?

    Bones do decompose and vanish. It all depends generally speaking on the environment in which a body is buried.

    Those bones which have been found ages after a saint has died are usually recognised from some exterior identifying factor.

    But I am not entirely sure what you asking?
  • I always believed that bones never decompose or vanish, just because of the homo sapien's skulls, dinosaurs' etc that are found these days. My question is that we believe that the existing of a Saint's bones these days it is because of a miracle, but since they (never) vanish, why do we consider this as a miracle?

    Thanks in advance.
  • Why do you believe that bones never vanish?

    I can google countless archaeological examples that show that recent burials have completely disappeared and appear only as stained soil.

    Father Peter
  • It is because of the dinosaurs' and homo sapiens' bones that were found. These bones are like thousand of years old.

    Well, if I'm wrong, then forgive me for my ignorance.

    Thank you and may God bless you!
  • I don't think most people believe that the presence of Saint's bones after all these years is miraculous, and there's no reason to think it is. I'd be interested to see those links Father but I'm pretty sure that in the dry arid areas of the Middle East and Egypt, even bodies buried normally are naturally mummified (which inspired the Egyptian concept of mummification) and bones will rarely if ever disappear completely, in contrast to places like Europe where they will rot away much quicker.

    In regards to whether or not they actually belong to saints, I often ask myself the same question, and personally I'm not sure that they did - we've got nothing to go on but blind faith in whoever found the bones. I even saw a documentary where one bone was identified as belonging to a pig, even though the Church it was in had supposedly kept it for centuries as the remains of a long dead bishop! It is important to keep in mind that especially during the Middle Ages, relics were great moneymakers for the wealthy Catholic cities like Rome, Florence and Venice - and I doubt much work went into verifying the authenticity of the bones placed in their reliquaries and venerated. I suspect if one were to collect all the bones supposedly belonging to a single saint, one would find enough to reconstruct several different bodies, none of which belonged to the saint in question. Some of that superstition and avarice may have seeped over into Egypt.

    So in my humble opinion, who knows? Maybe yes, maybe no. It's not an essential part of our faith in any event, and the question is completely separate from the respect and honour we give to our saints for their blessed lives.


  • Some bones are preserved and some bones disappear completely. It depends on the conditions in which the body was buried.

    If the soil is acidic it will make all the skeleton disappear. But in a peat bog the entire body may be preserved, including skin and hair. In the same way it is often the case that most ancient wooden buildings in England are completely lost, the wood just decomposing, but what remains is a stain in the ground that shows where a wooden post hole sat. Many burials can only be noted from similar stains in the ground which show the outline of the body but being only discolored earth or sand would fall to pieces if touched.

    I don't think people think it a miracle that bone remains of some of the saints remain. I have such relics in my own Church. Those cases that are considered miraculous tend to be when the whole body of a saint remains virtually decomposed after some years, or even centuries.

    .. epchois_nai_nan

    I agree with you about relics. It seems to me that in many cases there are strong and reasonable grounds for considering them to be truly relics of a saint, or at the least to have been considered to have been such for a very long time indeed. But in all cases, the relics of the saints are icons, and therefore receive the honour we offer to the saint, or to God in His saints.

    Father Peter
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