The Mystery of the Cardinal’s Corpse!

Whoa, here’s an interesting article out of England yesterday.  You’ll recall from previous posts that Cardinal John Henry Newman’s grave was recently opened, in order that his remains could be exhumed and transferred to a new grave inside Birmingham Oratory, in anticipation of his beatification.  Except very few remains remained

The explanation provided was that contrary to what officials had presumed, Newman had not been buried in a lead coffin, but rather a simple wooden one, and in wet ground, so that just about everything was decomposed.

In steps Professor John Hunter from the University of Birmingham (the article doesn’t say what he’s a professor of).  A clip:

Professor Hunter said: “It is very interesting from a forensic point of view to find a body that has completely decayed within this amount of time. It is very unusual and very unlikely. If we have extreme soil conditions that take away human bones, they would also take away coffin handles, which are still there.

“I am not making any claims or accusations. I am merely looking at it from a (forensic) point of view.”

Prof Hunter said he chose to investigate out of curiosity and was only able to obtain a sample from ground near to the cemetery, not from the grave itself.  He said there were three options: either the soil environment of the grave was different to the sample tested, bones were missed when the grave was exhumed or the body was never there in the first place.

The entire article is here.

Related: The TImes Online has printed a prayer for Newman’s beatification.


2 Responses to “The Mystery of the Cardinal’s Corpse!”

  1. toni Says:

    Will we ever know if what was left was the cardinal or someone else? And if it wasn’t him, where is he?

  2. Barry Michaels Says:

    Tell me about it. Would this make a good novel, or what?

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