Matthew Wall, FarmerOn October 2, 1571, recently deceased young farmer Matthew Wall was lying in a coffin on the way to his own funeral. Even though the day was cool and damp, the whole village of Braughing in Hertfordshire was out for the event, including Wall's distressed fiancée. As the procession made their way to the church, one of the pallbearers slipped on the wet leaves, dropping the coffin to the ground. The commotion was surprising.
But when the men lifted the coffin again, they were even more shocked by what they heard next: the sound of knocking. Matthew Wall had come back to life and was banging on the walls of his own coffin!
Wall eventually went on to marry his fiancée and live for another 24 years. Since then, Braughing village has commemorated Old Man's Day every year on October 2nd. To celebrate, village children bring brooms to sweep leaves from the lane in front of the church, presumably so no one slips on them. Any more dropped coffins, and they could have a zombie apocalypse on their hands.
Anne Green, Convicted Child-KillerIn 1650, Anne Green was convicted of murdering her bastard child and hiding its body at her boss's house. Soon, she was sentenced to death by hanging and led to the gallows, where she was fitted with a noose. For her last words, she proclaimed her innocence and begged, "Sweet Jesus, receive my soul." After the hangman kicked the little stool out from under her, Green's body was left to hang for half an hour. During this time, her pals reportedly:
thump[ed] her on the breast’ and hung ‘with all their weight upon her leggs… lifting her up and then pulling her downe againe with a suddain jerke...which seems very rude to me, but apparently they were trying to quicken her death / lessen her suffering. Whatever.
Eventually, Green's lifeless body was cut down from the gallows and put in a coffin, which was taken to a doctor who was going to dissect her. Just as the doctor prepared to slice her open from chest to gut, Anne's corpse groaned. Hallelujah!
There are two versions (maybe more) of what happened next:
In one, doctors immediately began to warm her body, pour hot cordials in her mouth, and (doy) bleed her.
In the other, someone tried to kick her back into the land of the dead by stomping on her chest. The force of the kick was so strong that it completely revived her.
Either way, Green – having been through enough for one day – was granted a reprieve and declared innocent. She lived a long time after her resurrection and bore three more children, none of whom she was convicted of killing.
Marjorie McCall, MoneybagsIn 18th Century Lurgan, Ireland, Dr. John McCall's wife Marjorie fell ill with fever and died shortly thereafter. Since he was a doctor and therefore rich, Marjorie naturally had an expensive gold wedding ring – but at her death, neither John nor any other mourner was able to remove it from her swollen finger. Due to fear that her fever would spread, Marjorie was hastily buried in Shankill Cemetery, and news of the doctor's dead wife spread throughout neighborhood.
Soon, some grave-robbers got busy digging up Marjorie's coffin. When they pried open the lid, they were delighted to find that yes, the valuable ring was still on her finger. Try as they might, they couldn't pull off the ring, so they agreed to saw off the whole finger. As the sharp blade cut into her skin, Marjorie came back to life, sat bolt upright, and shrieked like a tween with Bieber Fever. A miracle if there ever was one!
When the startled corpse-desecrating thieves fled, Marjorie was left alone to climb out of her grave like a creep and wander home. Across town, her widower Dr. John was boozing with some relatives, sorrowful at the loss of his wife but also pumped about his new-found bachelorhood. When he heard a gentle rapping, rapping on his chamber door door, he opened it to find his dead wife, extra creepy and all wraithlike in her burial robes and bloody from the ol' saw-to-the-finger ordeal. The shock was too much for the doctor. He instantly dropped dead on the floor and was buried in the grave Marjorie had just vacated.
St. Odran, NaysayerIn 548 A.D., Christian folks in Iona, Scotland, wanted to build a chapel near an ancient burial ground. The problem was that no matter what they did, the work they constructed was destroyed each night, so they had to start all over again the next day. Eventually, a guy named Columba got it into his head that if they buried someone alive in the foundation, they would be able to finish building the chapel.
With a promise that his soul would be safe, a monk named Oran or Odran or Odhran – Columba's son or brother – volunteered (or was volunteered) to be buried alive, so he was. When that dirty work was done, the folks above ground finished the chapel. Hi-ho.
After some time, Columba started to miss Odran, so he opened the burial pit again.
One day, the dead-and-back-to-life Oran shoved his face up through a wall and began to talk. He said:
There is no such great wonder in death. There is no Hell as you suppose, nor Heaven that people talk about.When Oran began to try to escape his grave in the foundation, Columba flipped out and shoved him back down again, quickly covering the pit with earth. Or he had Oran's body removed and buried somewhere else on grounds of heresy. His own brother. Or son.
Thomas à Kempis, FaithlessIn life, Catholic monk Thomas à Kempis (probably) wrote The Imitation of Christ, which everyone agreed was a pretty good and pious publication. Some time after his death in Zwolle in 1471, Church authorities began to think Thomas would make a good saint. They exhumed his body with plans to go forward with his canonization, but were bummed to find scratch marks inside the coffin lid and splinters embedded beneath Thomas's nails. After all, what kind of candidate for sainthood would try to escape his fate of death? Despite the holy miracle of his resurrection after death, Thomas was denied canonization and never became a saint.
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