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Gravediggers come up short on would-be saint's remains
Religion News Service (posted on Modern Reformation) ^ | 7 Oct 2008

Posted on 10/31/2008 3:01:56 PM PDT by Gamecock

LONDON -- Plans to transfer the remains of 19th-century Roman Catholic Cardinal John Henry Newman from a humble country graveyard to a posh marble sarcophagus have been abandoned because gravediggers could not find his body.

When church officials sought to exhume his bones from his grave in a rural English cemetery on Thursday (Oct. 2), all they found were a brass plaque and a scattering of red tassels from his cardinal's hat.

The Catholic Church had wanted to shift Newman's remains to Birmingham Oratory, the Midlands edifice that he established in Victorian England, in preparation for his expected beatification as a saint, possibly later this year or next.

They were stunned to discover that his body -- buried in 1890 -- was gone.

"I have been visiting that grave since I was a very young boy," said Peter Jennings, spokesman for the Oratory. "I will never forget how I felt, standing there last Thursday, looking at this deep hole which had been dug out.

"This was the greatest churchman of the 19th century," Jennings said sadly, "and there was nothing there -- only dust."

Catholic officials quickly dismissed any theories about a conspiracy, speculating instead that since Newman's coffin was -- to their surprise -- wooden, not lead-lined, the cardinal's body had simply disintegrated in the 118 years since it was interred.

In an official statement, Jennings said that "brass, wooden and cloth artifacts from Cardinal Newman's coffin were found. However, there were no remains of the body."

Jennings told journalists that "in the view of the medical and health professionals in attendance, burial in a wooden coffin in a very damp site makes this kind of total decomposition of the body unsurprising."

But he insisted that "the absence of physical remains in the grave does not affect the progress of Cardinal Newman's cause (to be made a saint) in Rome."

Catholic leaders had planned that, once Newman's body was in its new resting place in the Oratory, it would become a center of Christian pilgrimage.

Instead, the planners will now have to make do with the brass plaque and the remains of his cardinal's cap that were found in the crumbled coffin, plus a few locks of Newman's hair that have been in the Oratory's care since the days when the cardinal organized it.

The hair had been on loan to Jack Sullivan, a Boston deacon, whose "inexplicable" recovery from a debilitating spinal condition after praying to the cardinal is claimed as one of the two "miracles" that Newman's supporters need to prove their case for his sainthood.

The plaque, the tassels and the strands of hair are to be placed in a small casket, and will be put on public display during a vigil of prayer at the Birmingham Oratory on Oct. 31.

If he does become a saint, Newman would become the first non-martyred English saint since before the 16th-century Reformation.


TOPICS: General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: grave; saint

1 posted on 10/31/2008 3:01:59 PM PDT by Gamecock
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To: Gamecock
there was nothing there -- only dust

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

2 posted on 10/31/2008 3:07:53 PM PDT by itsthejourney (1 of every 10 people you pass in the mall is here illegally)
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To: itsthejourney

It’s the Rapture, and he was the only one missing!

Or just highly acidic English soil; your call.


3 posted on 10/31/2008 3:11:57 PM PDT by Philo-Junius (One precedent creates another. They soon accumulate and constitute law.)
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To: Gamecock
"This was the greatest churchman of the 19th century,"...and there was nothing there -- only dust." ... the cardinal's body had simply disintegrated in the 118 years since it was interred.

Clearly a miracle. Isn't this what happened to Mary? Let's venerate the red tassels. ;O)

4 posted on 10/31/2008 3:36:53 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD

Thanks for showing your true colors....:)


5 posted on 10/31/2008 4:44:22 PM PDT by Ann Archy (Abortion.....The Human Sacrifice to the god of Convenience.)
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To: HarleyD; Ann Archy
The article addresses this specifically:

" Catholic officials quickly dismissed any theories about a conspiracy, speculating instead that since Newman's coffin was -- to their surprise -- wooden, not lead-lined, the cardinal's body had simply disintegrated in the 118 years since it was interred.

In an official statement, Jennings said that "brass, wooden and cloth artifacts from Cardinal Newman's coffin were found. However, there were no remains of the body."

Wooden you know? No surprise here. 'Tis nature.

6 posted on 10/31/2008 5:20:04 PM PDT by RGPII (No O-bortions.)
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Comment #7 Removed by Moderator

To: sandyeggo; informavoracious; larose; RJR_fan; Prospero; Conservative Vermont Vet; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of interest.

Obama Says A Baby Is A Punishment

Obama: “If they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.”

8 posted on 10/31/2008 8:40:52 PM PDT by narses (http://www.theobamadisaster.com/)
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To: Gamecock
The overwhelming majority of Catholic canonized saints have only skeletal remains or less. Hardly any are preserved in a state even resembling “incorruptibility,” and in no way is such preservation considered a requirement to be met in the canonization process. God may choose, in His omniscience, to preserve some remains entirely, and not others. He alone is sovereign, and He has His reasons, either way.

So, given all that, your point in posting this (old) article is...what...exactly?

9 posted on 10/31/2008 8:51:20 PM PDT by magisterium
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To: magisterium

As a Protestant Christian I find this entire exercise utterly befuddling. Why are Catholics digging up his grave?

I **respectfully** ask, “Why are you doing this?”


10 posted on 10/31/2008 9:33:38 PM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are NOT stupid)
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To: wintertime
As a Protestant Christian I find this entire exercise utterly befuddling. Why are Catholics digging up his grave?

Someone being beatified is typically exhumed (if their gravesite is known): (a) to determine whether they've been miraculously preserved; (b) to recover relics; and (c) to move their body to a more accessible or impressive resting place.

It's pretty much standard procedure.

11 posted on 10/31/2008 9:46:17 PM PDT by Campion (Vote for Obama and Get Nuclear War for Free!)
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To: Campion

to recover relics;
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Why is the condition of the body important?

What is the purpose of relics?


12 posted on 10/31/2008 9:55:15 PM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are NOT stupid)
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To: wintertime
Some saints' bodies are miraculously preserved from decomposition. It's generally considered evidence of great sanctity.

(The reverse is not true, however. Some very great saints were not incorrupt; St. Therese of Liseux is a famous example. Someone actually told her during her life that she would be incorrupt after she died. She said, "Absolutely not" ... and she was right.)

Relics are venerated as a tangible connection to the saint and his life. This has been true since the earliest days of Christianity, when the liturgy was celebrated in the catacombs surrounded by the relics of the martyrs. To this day, a Catholic (or Orthodox) altar generally contains a relic of a saint.

13 posted on 10/31/2008 10:06:50 PM PDT by Campion (Vote for Obama and Get Nuclear War for Free!)
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To: Campion

Thank you


14 posted on 10/31/2008 10:18:40 PM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are NOT stupid)
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To: wintertime
Why is the condition of the body important?

I variety of Saints have been exhumed and their bodies have been found to be preserved. When this cannot be explained by mummification, or some other kind of preservation that can be explained by natural causes, the incorruptibility of the body is seen to be a sign of the person's Sainthood. But this is not an essential characteristic of a Saint. Only a minority are incorruptible.

More info here or here.

What is the purpose of relics?

For an explanation of the Catholic view on relics, see here.
15 posted on 10/31/2008 10:27:08 PM PDT by bdeaner
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To: bdeaner

Regarding relics:

Thank you for the links to the scriptural references. I will check the rest out tomorrow.


16 posted on 10/31/2008 10:37:14 PM PDT by wintertime (Good ideas win! Why? Because people are NOT stupid)
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To: Campion

As a Protestant Christian I find this entire exercise utterly befuddling. Why are Catholics digging up his grave?

Someone being beatified is typically exhumed (if their gravesite is known): (a) to determine whether they've been miraculously preserved; (b) to recover relics; and (c) to move their body to a more accessible or impressive resting place.

It's pretty much standard procedure.

I do note the tone of the headline "gravedigger" versus the commonly used "exhumed" is not a kind choice of words. But at least today, there is little reason to enter into a debate on this. The practices of other religions could likewise be skewed with unflattering terminology.

17 posted on 11/01/2008 5:35:10 AM PDT by RGPII (No O-Bortions.)
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To: bdeaner
What's curious is another story at that "Modern Reformation" website concerning the famous Evangelical thinker Francis Schaeffer.

Excerpts with a few of my notes:

"As a crusading evangelist and author, Francis Schaeffer ), urged conservative Christians to politically battle abortion and engage the secular culture. But he would have recoiled from the "snide" comments and jeering at this summer's Republican National Convention, his son Frank says.

.....

Schaeffer (the son) has left the Republican Party -- he considers himself an independent and is supporting Barack Obama -- and the evangelical church. He finds the Greek Orthodox Church more suitable to his spirituality than being a "professional Christian."

"If you're an evangelist, you've got to be a special person not to lose your grip on what you believe," he said. "I lost my grip. I had to get out for the salvation of my soul." - Modern Reformation website.

- Link on Schaeffer: so my gosh, myself a Catholic was exposed to Schaeffer being a deep Protestant thinker and I'm not meaning to be judgemental but now his son is thinking these certain ways? Can he actually belong to a Greek Orthodox Church in good conscience?

- Wikipedia Schaeffer article

He looked like some Hepcat or Apostle even if you will and I don't respect him less but I wonder if there has been a breakdown of the message of God in his family.

18 posted on 11/01/2008 7:31:58 PM PDT by RGPII (No O-Bortions.)
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To: itsthejourney

Indeed, as a Catholic one of my favorite days is Ash Wednesday. The words reminding us that we came from dust and will return to dust have a very strong effect on me. Without God, we are nothing whatsoever.


19 posted on 11/01/2008 10:33:49 PM PDT by Patriotic1 (Dic mihi solum facta, domina - Just the facts, ma'am)
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To: wintertime

Just as an aside, the monks of the Carthusian Order are buried straight into the ground. I read a book about them and there were photos. One was of such a burial - I found it odd, but now I wish I could be buried this way.

My mortal remains are of no use to me. I don’t expect God to have a problem recreating a physical body once the time comes - He has a lot of practice with that ;)


20 posted on 11/01/2008 10:38:31 PM PDT by Patriotic1 (Dic mihi solum facta, domina - Just the facts, ma'am)
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To: Ann Archy

What colors? Puce Protestant? :O)


21 posted on 11/02/2008 5:16:10 AM PST by HarleyD
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To: Patriotic1
Indeed, as a Catholic one of my favorite days is Ash Wednesday. The words reminding us that we came from dust and will return to dust have a very strong effect on me. Without God, we are nothing whatsoever.

http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=3904 Done by Lutherans as well, maybe others.

22 posted on 11/02/2008 6:22:03 AM PST by RGPII (No O-Bortions.)
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