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.



6 responses

24 04 2010
Carmela Camuso

Camuso is my married last name, my husband is Camuso.
My father in law and his father are Camuso and there are from a small village called Bonito Providence of Avellino Italy.
This is amazing… my father in law has never been in Italy am doesn’t know much of his Camuso family, he is the last Camuso alive from his family but i took my husband to see my family which is near Bonito.
One day we took the trip to Bonito to see if any relatives were alive or find any info on the Camuso…well we were intoduced to a man who then made a call and ask if we could follow him cause he something amazing to show us.
This man took us to a mummified body in which this time 2 other men came that worked in their municipal office to inform us that this mummified body is Vincenzo Camuso and that my father in law and his son (my husband) are related.
We were in awe, amazed, shocked….one of the men told us he had a key which he can open the glass door for us…we said yes…and so the man opened it.
We got all the info from these 3 men which wasn’t much.
We like to know more…as we have an 8 year old son and as of this day my son is the last Camuso from Bonito.
Please e-mail me with any information that you may have

31 10 2008

There was a legend about a Portuguese merchant who sailed to Manila in the 17th century, barely a hundred years since the Spanish first arrived in the Far East. It was said that the merchant, having grown tired of his worldly life, sold all his possessions and hiked to the top of a mountain, where he found a cave. There he would settle for the rest of his life, subsisting on rainwater and the occasional fowl that came his way, until he eventually died. It was said that when his body was found by a contingent of Spanish soldiers and some locals, the man’s body was found to be in a kneeling position, eyes closed in firm rapture, the flesh still seemingly warm a year after his death.

31 10 2008

A more thorough account of Phra Khru Samathakittikhun can be found here:

31 10 2008

Buddhists have them too: Phra Khru Samathakittikhun of Koh Samui, Thailand:

He died sitting in meditation in 1973, and his undecomposed body remains in that posture for the faithful to venerate. Note the sunglasses…

30 10 2008

For those interested in exploring the dynamics of southern Italian Catholicism–especially in its relationship between peasant culture and governing regimes, both secular and religious, the life of the great miracle worker and patron of Calabria, St. Francis of Paola, can be instructive. There probably isn’t one source in English that is definitive, but the popular Tan biography I believe is still available. Here’s an internet source:

29 10 2008

Then, of course, there’s the mummified head of St. Catherine of Siena…

But this guy sounds pretty cool as well.

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