Vincenzo Camuso – The Friendly Catholic Mummy of Campania

29 10 2008

Michael P. Carroll, in his book, Veiled Threats: The Logic of Popular Catholicism in Italy, has about a page and a half of text that is well worth the price of the book. Everyone has heard of holy relics and holy souls, but what about holy mummies of Catholic devotion? Well, there’s at least one. His body was found in the church of S. Crisenzio in Campania during a church renovation, but no one quite knows when. No one knows either how anyone found out his name, Vincenzo Camuso. All people know is that he is un’ anima santa del Purgatorio (or an anima sola in the Spanish tradition) who comes to help people in time of need. His body was displayed in the church well into the 1960’s. Sometimes he appears to sick people to heal them (once he even showed in a hospital in the guise of a doctor to perform surgery). Other times he appears to the living to remind people to pray for the souls of the dead. He is certainly one of the most colorful characters of the folk Catholic pantheon.