Instances of Persons who have given Signs of Life after their Death, and have withdrawn themselves respectfully to make room for more worthy Persons

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

Tertullian

Tertullian relates an instance to which he had been witness—de meo didici. A woman who belonged to the church, to which she had been given as a slave, died in the prime of life, after being once married only, and that for a short time, was brought to the church. Before putting her in the ground, the priest offering the sacrifice and raising his hands in prayer, this woman, who had her hands extended at her side, raised them at the same time, and put them together as a supplicant; then, when the peace was given, she replaced herself in her former position.

Tertullian adds that another body, dead, and buried in a cemetery, withdrew on one side to give place to another corpse which they were about to inter near it. He relates these instances as a suite to what was said by Plato and Democritus, that souls remained some time near the dead bodies they had inhabited, which they preserved sometimes from corruption, and often caused their hair, beard, and nails to grow in their graves. Tertullian does not approve of the opinion of these; he even refutes them pretty well; but he owns that the instances I have just spoken of are favorable enough to that opinion, which is also that of the Hebrews, as we have before seen.

It is said that after the death of the celebrated Abelard, who was interred at the Monastery of the Paraclete, the Abbess Heloisa, his spouse, being also deceased, and having requested to be buried in the same grave, at her approach Abelard extended his arms and received her into his bosom: elevatis brachiis illam recepit, et ita eam amplexatus brachia sua strinxit. This circumstance is certainly neither proved nor probable; the Chronicle whence it is extracted had probably taken it from some popular rumor.

The author of the Life of St. John the Almoner, which was written immediately after his death by Leontius, Bishop of Naples, a town in the Isle of Cyprus, relates that St. John the Almoner being dead at Amatunta, in the same island, his body was placed between that of two bishops, who drew back on each side respectfully to make room for him in sight of all present; non unus, neque decem, neque centum viderunt, sed omnis turba, quæ convenit ad ejus sepulturam, says the author cited. Metaphrastes, who had read the life of the saint in Greek, repeats the same fact.

Evagrius de Pont says that a holy hermit named Thomas, and surnamed Salus, because he counterfeited madness, dying in the hospital of Daphné, near the city of Antioch, was buried in the strangers' cemetery, but every day he was found out of the ground at a distance from the other dead bodies, which he avoided. The inhabitants of the place informed Ephraim, Bishop of Antioch, of this, and he had him solemnly carried into the city and honorably buried in the cemetery, and from that time the people of Antioch keep the feast of his translation.

John Mosch reports the same story, only he says that it was some women who were buried near Thomas Salus, who left their graves through respect for the saint.

The Hebrews believe that the Jews who are buried without Judea will roll underground at the last day, to repair to the Promised Land, as they cannot come to life again elsewhere than in Judea.

The Persians recognize also a transporting angel, whose care it is to assign to dead bodies the place and rank due to their merits: if a worthy man is buried in an infidel country, the transporting angel leads him underground to a spot near one of the faithful, while he casts into the sewer the body of any infidel interred in holy ground. Other Muslims have the same notion; they believe that the transporting angel placed the body of Noah, and afterwards that of Ali, in the grave of Adam. 

Continued



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