Diverse Instances of Persons being Buried Alive

 [This is taken from Augustine Calmet's Phantom World, originally published in 1850, revised and edited by D. J. McAdam, 2010.  Copyright as such.]

coffin

Plutarch relates that a man who fell from a great height, having pitched upon his neck, was believed to be dead, without there being the appearance of any hurt. As they were carrying him to be buried, the day after, he all at once recovered his strength and his senses. Asclepiades meeting a great funeral train of a person they were taking to be interred, obtained permission to look at and to touch the dead man; he found some signs of life in him, and by means of proper remedies, he immediately recalled him to life, and restored him in sound health to his parents and relations.

There are several instances of persons who after being interred came to themselves, and lived a long time in perfect health. They relate in particular, that a woman of Orleans was buried in a cemetery, with a ring on her finger, which they had not been able to draw off her finger when she was placed in her coffin. The following night, a domestic, attracted by the hope of gain, broke open the coffin, and as he could not tear the ring off her finger, was about to cut her finger off, when she uttered a loud shriek. The servant fled. The woman disengaged herself as she could from her winding sheet, returned home, and survived her husband.

M. Bernard, a principal surgeon at Paris, attests that, being with his father at the parish of Réal, they took from the tombs, living and breathing, a monk of the order of St. Francis, who had been shut up in it three or four days, and who had gnawed his hands around the bands which confined them. But he died almost the moment that he was in the air.

Several persons have made mention of that wife of a counselor of Cologne, who having been interred with a valuable ring on her finger, in 1571, the grave-digger opened the grave the succeeding night to steal the ring. But the good lady caught hold of him, and forced him to take her out of the coffin. He, however, disengaged himself from her hands, and fled. The resuscitated lady went and rapped at the door of her house. At first they thought it was a phantom, and left her a long time at the door, waiting anxiously to be let in; but at last they opened it for her. They warmed her, and she recovered her health perfectly, and had after that three sons, who all belonged to the church. This event is represented on her sepulcher in a picture, or painting, in which the story is represented, and moreover, written, in German verses.

It is added that the lady, in order to convince those of the house that it was herself, told the footman who came to the door that the horses had gone up to the hay-loft, which was true; and there are still to be seen at the windows of the grenier of that house, horses' heads, carved in wood, as a sign of the truth of the matter.

François de Civile, a Norman gentleman, was the captain of a hundred men in the city of Rouen, when it was besieged by Charles IX., and he was then six-and-twenty. He was wounded to death at the end of an assault; and having fallen into the moat, some pioneers placed him in a grave with some other bodies, and covered them over with a little earth. He remained there from eleven in the morning till half-past six in the evening, when his servant went to disinter him. This domestic, having remarked some signs of life, put him in a bed, where he remained for five days and nights, without speaking, or giving any other sign of feeling, but as burning hot with fever as he had been cold in the grave. The city having been taken by storm, the servants of an officer of the victorious army, who was to lodge in the house wherein was Civile, threw the latter upon a paillasse in a back room, whence his brother's enemies tossed him out of the window upon a dunghill, where he remained for more than seventy-two hours in his shirt. At the end of that time, one of his relations, surprised to find him still alive, sent him to a league's distance from Rouen, where he was attended to, and at last was perfectly cured.

During a great plague, which attacked the city of Dijon in 1558, a lady, named Nicole Lentillet, being reputed dead of the epidemic, was thrown into a great pit, wherein they buried the dead. The day after her interment, in the morning, she came to herself again, and made vain efforts to get out, but her weakness, and the weight of the other bodies with which she was covered, prevented her doing so. She remained in this horrible situation for four days, when the burial men drew her out, and carried her back to her house, where she perfectly recovered her health.

A young lady of Augsburg, having fallen into a swoon, or trance, her body was placed under a deep vault, without being covered with earth; but the entrance to this subterranean vault was closely walled up. Some years after that time, some one of the same family died. The vault was opened, and the body of the young lady was found at the very entrance, without any fingers to her right hand, which she had devoured in despair.

On the 25th of July, 1688, there died at Metz a hair-dresser's boy, of an apoplectic fit, in the evening, after supper.

On the 28th of the same month, he was heard to moan again several times. They took him out of his grave, and he was attended by doctors and surgeons. The physician maintained, after he had been opened, that the young man had not been dead two hours. This is extracted from the manuscript of a bourgeois of Metz, who was cotemporary with him.

 



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