The human body rots when it’s deceased. That’s just how things naturally work.
However, throughout history there have been a few curious cases where bodies that weren’t embalmed or cryogenically-kept managed to stay relatively undestroyed or in a recognizable state for years or even centuries after death.
The four people above were a few such cases where the bodies just didn’t decompose like they normally do. Check them out and read below for more info on each.
Saint Catherine Laboure
Saint Catherine Laboure gained a huge Catholic following after her claims of receiving visitations by an apparition of the Virgin Mary spread throughout France and beyond. People would wear medallions commemorating her visions, one of which included her placing her hands on the Virgin Mary’s lap as they spoke in a chapel.
She was laid to rest in 1877 and exhumed in 1933 for an official beatification. Reports state “when the coffin was opened, [her body] was found to be incorrupt,” and an examination concluded it was “in perfect state of preservation, and its joints are still supple.”
Today her body can be viewed in Paris.
Lady Xin Zhui
Lady Xin Zhui lived as the wife of a minor Chinese nobleman during the Han dynasty. According to Mental Floss, she died as a morbidly obese woman after suffering a heart attack in 163 BCE.
Her body was discovered in 1971, spectacularly preserved with her skin still soft and her limbs still flexible at the joints. Although the body does have a ghastly appearance, it’s far from what one would expect a 2000 year-old corpse to look like. All this without any signs of embalming.
Roughly 500 years after she was killed as part of a religious sacrifice, a 15-year-old Incan girl was finally discovered in 1999 with her body nearly perfectly preserved. Her unruined condition is attributed to the cool temperatures and dry, low-oxygen air of the Andes where she was left after being killed.
Today she’s known only by the nickname ‘La Doncella,” which translates to “The Maiden.”
Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov was a Buddist high priest from Russia, who died on his own will while meditating in 1927. He had asked his fellow lamas to prepare a funeral for him and to bury him in the exact position he died in – the lotus position.
Accounts say he asked to be exhumed a few years after death, and when his body was brought up it was described as “in the condition of someone who had died 36 hours ago.”