Moral Impossibility that Ghosts can come out of their Tombs

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

tomb

I have already proposed the objection formed upon the impossibility of these vampires coming out of their graves, and returning to them again, without its appearing that they have disturbed the earth, either in coming out or going in again. No one has ever replied to this difficulty, and never will. To say that the demon subtilizes and spiritualizes the bodies of vampires, is a thing asserted without proof or likelihood.

The fluidity of the blood, the ruddiness, the suppleness of these vampires, ought not to surprise any one, any more than the growth of the nails and hair, and their bodies remaining undecayed. We see every day, bodies which remain uncorrupted, and retain a ruddy color after death. This ought not to appear strange in those who die without malady and a sudden death; or of certain maladies, known to our physicians, which do not deprive the blood of its fluidity, or the limbs of their suppleness.

With regard to the growth of the hair and nails in bodies which are not yet decayed, the thing is quite natural. There remains in those bodies a certain slow and imperceptible circulation of the humors, which causes this growth of the nails and hair, in the same way that we every day see common bulbs grow and shoot, although without any nourishment derived from the earth.

The same may be said of flowers, and in general of all that depends on vegetation in animals and plants.

The belief of the common people of Greece in the return to earth of the vroucolacas, is not much better founded than that of vampires and ghosts. It is only the ignorance, the prejudice, the terror of the Greeks, which have given rise to this vain and ridiculous belief, and which they keep up even to this very day. The narrative which we have reported after M. Tournefort, an ocular witness and a good philosopher, may suffice to undeceive those who would maintain the contrary.

The incorruption of the bodies of those who died in a state of excommunication, has still less foundation than the return of the vampires, and the vexations of the living caused by the vroucolacas; antiquity has had no similar belief. The schismatic Greeks, and the heretics separated from the Church of Rome, who certainly died excommunicated, ought, upon this principle, to remain uncorrupted; which is contrary to experience, and repugnant to good sense. And if the Greeks pretend to be the true Church, all the Roman Catholics, who have a separate communion from them, ought then also to remain undecayed. The instances cited by the Greeks either prove nothing, or prove too much. Those bodies which have not decayed, were really excommunicated, or not. If they were canonically and really excommunicated, then the question falls to the ground. If they were not really and canonically excommunicated, then it must be proved that there was no other cause of incorruption—which can never be proved.

Moreover, anything so equivocal as incorruption, cannot be adduced as a proof in so serious a matter as this. It is owned, that often the bodies of saints are preserved from decay; that is looked upon as certain, among the Greeks as among the Latins—therefore, we cannot thence conclude that this same incorruption is a proof that a person is excommunicated.

In short, this proof is universal and general, or only particular. I mean to say, either all excommunicated persons remain undecayed, or only a few of them. We cannot maintain that all those who die in a state of excommunication, are incorruptible. For then all the Greeks towards the Latins, and the Latins towards the Greeks, would be undecayed, which is not the case. That proof then is very frivolous, and nothing can be concluded from it. I mistrust, a great deal, all those stories which are related to prove this pretended incorruptibility of excommunicated persons. If well examined, many of them would doubtless be found to be false.

 



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