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Christian Mummification: An Interpretative History of the Preservation of Saints, Martyrs and Others

Christian Mummification: An Interpretative History of the Preservation of Saints, Martyrs and Others

by Ken Jeremiah




A mention of mummification immediately brings to mind the ancient Egyptians—but the Roman Catholic Church has long used the practice to preserve notable members of its faith. In Italy alone, more than 300 preserved bodies appear on display in churches and cathedrals—the mummified remains of saints, priests, martyrs, and other high-ranking Roman Catholic officials. This study explores the history of Roman Catholic mummification, which continues to this day in the use of New Kingdom Egyptian mummification procedures on popes. It explores various types of mummies, the connections between the Catholic Church and Egyptian religious practices, the treatment of the dead by other faiths, and the veritable cult that has arisen in Italy surrounding the saints whose bodies are preserved. By examining this unusual practice from both scientific and cultural perspectives, the book sheds light on a relatively unstudied aspect of the Roman Catholic faith.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786465194
Publisher: McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers
Publication date: 04/12/2012
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Ken Jeremiah has written extensively about spiritual and religious phenomena. He lives in Narragansett, Rhode Island, and runs tour groups to Japan, Italy, and other countries yearly.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Preface 1

Introduction 3

I World Mummification

1 Mummification and Critical Thinking 9

2 The Science of Mummification 12

3 Natural Mummies 15

4 Artificial Mummies 18

5 Other Forms of Mummification 22

6 Relic-Bodies 26

7 Death and the Unknown: The Allure of Mummies 32

II Mummies in Italy

8 Critical Thinking, Self-Reflection, and Mummy Studies 37

9 The Roman Catacombs 40

10 The Cult of the Martyrs 43

11 The Catacombs in Palermo 49

12 The Chapel of the Dead and the Skull Cathedral 53

13 Mummies of Ferentillo and San Domenico Maggiore; Papal Funerals 57

14 Polytheistic Elements of the Faith 64

III Saints and Relics

15 The Enigmatic Catholic Saint 73

16 The History of Saint Making 78

17 Stigmata and Other Miracles 82

18 Modern Saints 88

19 Asceticism in the Catholic Faith 92

20 The Importance of Physical Remains 96

21 The Cult of the Dead 100

IV Incorruptible Bodies

22 The Incorruptibles 107

23 Miraculous Preservation 111

24 The Preserved Bodies in Rome, Assisi and Mantova 116

25 Mummies in Florence, Naples and Sicily 122

26 Mummies in Other Parts of Italy 125

27 The Importance of the Incorruptibles 128

28 Preservation in Christianity 132

V Influences from Other Cultures

29 Mummification in Roman Society 141

30 The Old Testament 148

31 Historical Evidence 151

32 Immaculate Conception and the Resurrection 161

33 Mithra: The Zoroastrian God of the Sun 167

34 Pythagoras and Dionysus 170

35 The Cult of Osiris 174

VI The Egyptian Influence

36 Egyptian Influences in Italy 181

37 Alexandria and Coptic Christianity 188

38 Early Egyptian Religious Beliefs 192

39 Burial Practices 196

40 The Holy Trinity: Isis, Horus and Osiris 199

41 Religious Rituals and Practices 204

42 Integration and Assimilation 209

VII The Reasons Behind Christian Mummification

43 The Bodily Preservation of Jesus 215

44 The Rapture 217

45 Early Concepts of the Soul 223

46 The Power Inherent in Bodily Remains 226

47 Foreign Influences 229

48 Enduring Virtuosity 233

49 Symbols of Life and Death 236

Appendix Locations of Select Mummies or Bodily Relics in Italy 241

Chapter Notes 247

Bibliography 253

Index 261

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