When a saint's body doesn't decompose

Padre Pio

A saint’s fame is often increased when it’s discovered that his remains haven’t decomposed with time. This is the case with Padre Pio, whose remains will be displayed at the Vatican for several days in February.

Fr Carlo Calloni, who is in charge of studying Capuchin causes of canonisation, says: “One does not become a saint because his body has not decomposed. Rather, the Church studies how a person has lived the virtues.”

Fr Calloni explained that Padre Pio’s body was not being displayed to create spectacle nor to attract loyal followers. It’s being shown because he was one of the great confessors of all time.

“What was looked at to declare Padre Pio a saint was how he lived the oath of obedience, poverty and chastity, how he lived with humility, and his gentleness. This is what counts. That his body has not decomposed may be a sign, but it does not add validity to the process.”

Padre Pio is perhaps best known for the stigmata on his body. Nevertheless, Fr Calloni insists that these marks do not make anyone a saint either. He says that they are the result of a life of holiness.

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