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Venezia (2)
Via Appia

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The Source:

P. Saintyves:
"En Marge de la Légende Dorée - songes, miracles et survivances"
Librairie Critique Emile Nourry, Paris, 1931

The Case:

Well, even though this is not a proper story about the undead, many dead people have been thought to be Vampires or Nachzehrer merely on the basis of the fact that their corpses showed no signs of corruption. Reason enough for me to include this story.

"Trois chroniqueurs italiens de la fin du XVe siècle : Infessura, Matarozzo et Mantiporto, en rapportent un exemple typique."

"Le 14 avril 1485, sous le pontificat d'Innocent VIII, des ouvriers occupés à extraire du marbre à l'endroit de la Via Appia appelé Statuarium, découvrirent trois tombeaux antiques. Deux d'entre eux liaient des sépultures de famille ; dans celle des Tulliens, on trouva un sarcophage de marbre blanc qu'on ouvrit. Quelle ne fut pas la stupéfaction des ouvriers en y apercevant doucement étendu le corps frais d'une jeune fille ! Elle paraissait avoir de quinze a seize ans. Les jeux grands ouverts semblaient regarder. Ses cheveux sombres, partages au milieu du front, étaient relevés par derrière en un chignon fait de nattes; quand on la souleva, on sentit que les membres étaient souples comme dans la vie. Le bruit de ce miracle se répandit avec une rapidité telle que, le jour même, plus de vingt mille personnes se rendirent en pèlerinage à la voie Appienne pour contempler le merveilleux visage de la vierge romaine. Le lendemain, la foule enthousiaste souleva le lourd cercueil et le porta en triomphe jusqu'au Capitole. Innocent VIII, inquiet de l'émotion populaire et de cette adoration quasi-payenne, fit dérober nuitamment la jeune morte, qu'on ensevelit en secret dans un lieu que nul, depuis, n'a découvert"

Let me try to translate this:

"Three Italian chronicle writers from the 15th Century, Infessura, Matarazzo and Mantiporto, all recorded this fact."

"On the 14th of April of 1485, When Innocentius VIII was the Pope, workers, who were busy getting marble from a spot along the Via Appia called Statuarium, discovered three ancient tombs. Two of them were old family tombs. In the one of the Tullien family they found a sarcophagus of white marble, which they opened. The workers were stunned to find inside the fresh corpse of a young girl. She seemed to be 15 maybe 16 years old. The big open eyes seemed to be watching. Her dark hair, parted in the middle, were drawn to the back in a bun made of hair braids. When they lifted her up they felt that her legs and arms were as flexible as if she had been alive. The rumor about this miracle spread at such a speed that the same day more than twentythousand people came to the Via Appia to see the wonderful face of the Roman virgin. The next day the enthusiastic crowd lifted up the heavy sarcophagus and triumphantically carried it to the Capitole. That night, Pope Innocentius VIII, worried by the emotion of the people and the somewhat pagan worship, had the young woman's body stolen, and she was secretely buried in a spot that nobody has found back again."

The Date:

We have been given the date of 14 April 1485.

The Place:

The Via Appia is an old Roman road which goes from Rome all the way to Brindisi.

Personal Comments:

Just for the record, I am not suggesting that the Roman girl was a vampire. But a body that has not corrupted certainly is a returning element within the belief in vampires. This here seems like a very nice example of such a corpse. The flexibility of the limbs reminds me of LeFanu's "Carmilla". Had the corpse of the Roman girl been found somewhere in say Central or Eastern Europe, I imagine that the story would probably have ended in a different manner.

Possible Follow-Up:

Well, apart from the book by Saintyves we have been given the names of three Italian chronicle writers who all seem to have written about this case. Why not check them out and see what they have to say.

© 2015 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed February 2015

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