[This is taken from Augustine Calmet's Phantom World, originally published in 1850, revised and edited by D. J. McAdam, 2010. Copyright as such.]
After having treated in a separate dissertation on the matter of the apparitions of angels, demons, and disembodied souls, the connection of the subject invites me to speak also of the ghosts and excommunicated persons, whom, it is said, the earth rejects from her bosom; of the vampires of Hungary, Silesia, Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland; and of the vroucolacas of Greece. I shall report first of all, what has been said and written of them; then I shall deduce some consequences, and bring forward the reasons or arguments that may be adduced for, and against, their existence and reality.
The revenans of Hungary, or vampires, which form the principal object of this dissertation, are men who have been dead a considerable time, sometimes more, sometimes less; who leave their tombs, and come and disturb the living, sucking their blood, appearing to them, making a racket at their doors, and in their houses, and lastly, often causing their death. They are named vampires, or oupires, which signifies, they say, in Slavonic, a leech. The only way to be delivered from their haunting, is to disinter them, cut off their head, impale them, burn them, or pierce their heart.
Several systems have been propounded to explain the return, and these apparitions of the vampires. Some persons have denied and rejected them as chimerical, and as an effect of the prepossession and ignorance of the people of those countries, where they are said to come back or return.
Others have thought that these people were not really dead, but that they had been interred alive, and returned naturally to themselves, and came out of their tombs.Others believe that these people are very truly dead, but that God, by a particular permission, or command, permits or commands them to come back to earth, and resume for a time their own body; for when they are exhumed, their bodies are found entire, their blood vermilion and fluid, and their limbs supple and pliable.
Others maintain that it is the demon who causes these revenans to appear, and by their means does all the harm he occasions both men and animals.
In the supposition that vampires veritably resuscitate, we may raise an infinity of difficulties on the subject. How is this resurrection accomplished? It is by the strength of the revenant, by the return of his soul into his body? Is it an angel, is it a demon who reanimates it? Is it by the order, or by the permission of God that he resuscitates? Is this resurrection voluntary on his part, and by his own choice? Is it for a long time, like that of the persons who were restored to life by Jesus Christ? or that of persons resuscitated by the Prophets and Apostles? Or is it only momentary, and for a few days and a few hours, like the resurrection operated by St. Stanislaus upon the lord who had sold him a field; or that spoken of in the life of St. Macarius of Egypt, and of St. Spiridion, who made the dead to speak, simply to bear testimony to the truth, and then left them to sleep in peace, awaiting the last, the judgment day.
First of all, I lay it down as an undoubted principle, that the resurrection of a person really dead is effected by the power of God alone. No man can either resuscitate himself, or restore another man to life, without a visible miracle.
Jesus Christ resuscitated himself, as he had promised he would; he did it by his own power; he did it with circumstances which were all miraculous. If he had returned to life as soon as he was taken down from the cross, it might have been thought that he was not quite dead, that there remained yet in him some remains of life, that they might have been revived by warming him, or by giving him cordials and something capable of bringing him back to his senses.
But he revives only on the third day. He had, as it were, been killed after his death, by the opening made in his side with a lance, which pierced him to the heart, and would have put him to death, if he had not then been beyond receiving it.
When he resuscitated Lazarus, he waited until he had been four days in the tomb, and began to show corruption; which is the most certain mark that a man is really deceased, without a hope of returning to life, except by supernatural means.
The resurrection which Job so firmly expected, and that of the man who came to life, on touching the body of the prophet Elisha in his tomb; and the child of the widow of Shunem, whom the same Elisha restored to life; that army of skeletons, whose resurrection was predicted by Ezekiel, and which in spirit he saw executed before his eyes, as a type and pledge as the return of the Hebrews from their captivity at Babylon;—in short, all the resurrections related in the sacred books of the Old and New Testament, are manifestly miraculous effects, and attributed solely to the Almighty power of God. Neither angels, nor demons, nor men, the holiest and most favored of God, could by their own power restore to life a person really dead. They can do it by the power of God alone, who when he thinks proper so to do, is free to grant this favor to their prayers and intercession.
© D J McAdam. Please note: all applicable material on this website is protected by law and may not be copied without express written permission.
Home | Book Collecting | Folklore / Myth | Philately | Playing Cards | Literature | Contents