The "Incorruptible" Corpse of Saint Bernadette

A picture of Saint Bernadette
as a child.
The corpse of Saint Bernadette is currently on display at the Church of St. Gildard in the Nevers, France convent where Bernadette was a nun. It is in a crystal coffin, through which visitors can gaze upon her body. In photos, the saint’s “incorruptible” body appears as if it is relaxed in sleep, when in reality, it has been lifeless for more than 130 years. The supposedly incorruptible nature of her corpse, coupled with certain events in her life, has led to her canonization. The following is a look at the life of Saint Bernadette and the body she left behind.

Saint Bernadette was born Bernadette Soubirous on January 7, 1844. Her family was poor and so she led a simple life. People described her as polite and kind, but not very bright and often ill.

On February 11, 1858, Bernadette’s life changed forever when she said she saw an apparition of the Virgin Mary. Over the course of the next two weeks she saw the Virgin Mary at a grotto in Lourdes seventeen more times. She claimed Mary told her a secret. She also supposedly found a spring under the direction of the Virgin Mary. Years later, Bernadette joined a convent and began the rest of her life.

Saint Bernadette remained sickly throughout her life. She died at the Nevers convent on April 16, 1879. She was thirty-five-years old. The members of the convent gave her a traditional burial and her body remained at rest for the next thirty years. Her corpse was exhumed in September of 1909 when the investigation into her proposed sainthood began. The coffin was opened in front of several eyewitnesses, all of whom say that the body was in exceptionally good condition. The Catholic church can require that a body be “incorruptible” for the previous occupant of that body to be considered a saint. That is really impossible, but there is no denying that Bernadette’s body was unusually preserved. However, that is possible for anyone, under the right conditions.

After the first exhumation, Saint Bernadette’s rigor mortised and slowly blackening corpse was washed and placed in a new coffin. Her body was reinterred, only to be exhumed again in 1919. During the second inspection, it was noted that some mildew was growing on the skin of Bernadette’s corpse. Also, a layer of salt had accumulated since the last exhumation and the blackening of her skin had continued. Some partial bones, and muscle from her thighs, were removed then for inspection and she was reburied.

In 1925, Saint Bernadette’s body was removed one last time. This time, a wax mask was made to cover her face, so that the changes in her features and skin tone would not repulse visitors. She was then placed into her crystal coffin and put on display where she is today. She was canonized in 1933, under Pope Pius XI. Her so-called incorruptible body played a role in this. However, it is rather obvious that her body has deteriorated over the past century. It has just done so at a slow rate, which can probably be attributed to the conditions in her various coffins.


Biography of Bernadette Soubirous, retrieved 2/28/10,

The Body of St. Bernadette, retrieved 2/28/10,

The Roswell Rods: Cryptid or Bad Photography?

The Roswell Rods are a hybrid cryptid/UFO mystery that seems to have arisen in the 1990's, though some claim the phenomenon dates back much farther. Despite the name, the Roswell Rods have nothing to do with Roswell, New Mexico's famous UFO stories. They are named such because they were first filmed just outside of Roswell and the man who filmed them is from Roswell, New Mexico. Believers in the Roswell Rods will tell you that he has discovered a new life form. Skeptics will tell you there must be something in the water in Roswell.

Jose Escamilla claims to be the first to catch Roswell Rods on film. He is certainly the man who gave them their name. What he filmed are rod or rope-like blurs in the sky. At first glance, this may sound like a UFO story. However, believers do not think of them as unidentified flying objects. They think of them as unidentified flying organisms. These mysterious blurs caught on film are thought by some to be cryptids–creatures that have yet to be seen or studied by scientists.

What appears in these photographs and videos of Roswell Rods are long blurs with propeller-like appendages. Alternatively, they look like strings or ropes that are moving in rapid spiral motions. The size of these "creatures" ranges from 4 inches long to several hundred feet. (These lengths are estimates based on stills.) According to Jose and others, they cannot be seen without photographs or video. They claim that the Roswell Rods move so fast they you need film to capture them. It is true that this is the only way they have ever been seen and there are a great number of Roswell Rod photos.

For some, it is hard to make the leap from blurry, rod or string-like object in a photograph to heretofore-undocumented creatures. The problem is that many insects and birds move so fast that they create a blur on film. That blur can be interpreted however you like. There is also the fact that it would be difficult for a creature that grows to be several hundred feet to escape notice. Where are all the dead Roswell Rods? Why have they not smacked into aircraft or fallen to the ground?

To believers, there is no doubt that these creatures exist. There are claims that Roswell Rods are from another world and that is why they can move so fast and dead ones escape attention. The fact that photos of them come from all over the world is more evidence in their eyes. However, there simply is not enough proof to document this cryptid. There is no way anyone can make claims that it certainly exists. Photographic evidence simply is not enough.


Roswell Rods, retrieved 11/8/10,

Russell, Davy, Roswell Rods, retrieved 11/8/10,