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St. Francis Burial
Question from Chris on 6/27/2009:

Is there any information on how St. Francis of Assisi was buried? Was he buried simply or elaborately? I read somewhere that his burial pillow was made of fine metal fiber? Is this true? That would be interesting since St. Francis made it a point to live simply. I understand that his tomb was exhumed in the 1800s. What did they find? Was he incorrupt? Thanks!

Answer by Matthew Bunson on 7/19/2009:

The old Catholic Encyclopedia states the history of his burial very well:

The saint had, in his humility, it is said, expressed a wish to be buried on the Colle d'Inferno, a despised hill without Assisi, where criminals were executed. However this may be, his body was, on 4 October, borne in triumphant procession to the city, a halt being made at St. Damian's, that St. Clare and her companions might venerate the sacred stigmata now visible to all, and it was placed provisionally in the church of St. George (now within the enclosure of the monastery of St. Clare), where the saint had learned to read and had first preached. Many miracles are recorded to have taken place at his tomb. Francis was canonized at St. George's by Gregory IX, 16 July, 1228. On that day following the pope laid the first stone of the great double church of St. Francis, erected in honour of the new saint, and thither on 25 May, 1230, Francis's remains were secretly transferred by Brother Elias and buried far down under the high altar in the lower church. Here, after lying hidden for six centuries, like that of St. Clare's, Francis's coffin was found, 12 December, 1818, as a result of a toilsome search lasting fifty-two nights. This discovery of the saint's body is commemorated in the order by a special office on 12 December, and that of his translation by another on 25 May. His feast is kept throughout the Church on 4 October, and the impression of the stigmata on his body is celebrated on 17 September.

Readers are entirely free to correct me, but I do not believe that the remains of St. Francis were not incorrupt. This, of course, had no bearing on his canonization.

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