Charlier reports on his studies of Richard the Lionheart.
Munich (kath.net/ CBA) Philippe Charlier (37), doctor and France's most famous pathologist, has made very significant findings in his investigation of historically significant corpses. So the heart of the English King Richard the Lionheart (1157-1199), wrapped in linen, has about it an "artificial odor of sanctity", as exuded by martyrs, Charlier told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" (Thursday). The mixture is apparently composed of roses, daisies, myrtle, mint, frankincense, tea oil and mercury, maybe a little lime.
He had already smelled such a fragrance on Mount Athos in Greece, added the doctor. "This is a very intense aroma, very pleasant." During his recent visit to Munich, he had viewed the relics in the Church of Our Lady and St. Peter. Some came from the Roman catacombs and had also exuded the fragrance of holiness.
According to the pathologist, Lionheart, who participated in the Third Crusade, among other things, had "some problems, considered theologically". In the battles with the French King Philip II. August, many Christians had suffered death. For 33 years Richard would atone in purgatory. Therefore, his body was embalmed accordingly. "That should help him to go directly to heaven."
His next task will be to examine the remains of the French kings in the Cathedral of Saint Denis, Charlier announced. The tombs have been sealed since 1827. But there should probably bones, skulls and other skeletal parts in the tombs are completely in disarray, because they had been desecrated during the French Revolution in 1789. What had been done to them by the molester, should now be put in order, but the approval for it is difficult, admitted the pathologist, since two families would have to agree.
Charlier stressed that it was extremely important to him that human remains did not come from the investigations into a museum, but would be buried again. "The best place is where we found them." His relationship to death has not changed by his work with corpses that he has been doing for nine years, says the pathologist. However, since he has two sons, he thought differently about death after that, especially as babies and young children. His doctoral thesis on medical ethics have left their mark. Before that, he wanted to examine all the skeletons from all available museums. "Now -- and I'm absolutely not religious -- I think we must respect the will of the dead."
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