Monday, January 18, 2010


And because I couldn’t resist: 681 years ago yesterday Roseline de Villeneauve died. A virgin of ‘distinguished ancestry’ she became a Carthusian nun, was holy in many of the usual ecstatic ways and disciplined herself in the usual unpleasant ways. Then she died and her body did not disintegrate in any way. Five years later her body was exhumed and it was still so perfectly preserved, especially the eyes, the priest in charge had them enucleated and placed in a special reliquary. I rarely get to use the word enucleated, so I feel compelled to avail myself of this opportunity. Three hundred and fifteen years after the enucleation (in 1644), the body was still intact and the eyes had not shriveled. I don’t know how recently they have been checked, but you can visit Saint Roseline’s statue and reliquary in her chapel near Nice, and perhaps find out for yourself.

* enucleate |iˈn(y)oōklēˌāt|
verb [ trans. ]
1 Biology remove the nucleus from (a cell).
2 surgically remove (a tumor or gland, or the eyeball) intact from its surrounding capsule.

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