Skull of S. Thomas Aquinas
Shortly after Thomas Aquinas died, on March 7, 1274, miracles began to occur near his body. The monks of the Cistercian abbey at Fossanova, where Thomas was buried, feared that the remains might be stolen and taken off to a Dominican resting place.
Jealous of their treasure, the Cistercians took macabre precautions. They “exhumed the corpse of Brother Thomas from its resting place, cut off the head and placed it in a hiding place in a corner of the chapel.” That way, if the corpse were taken, the head would still be theirs. His sister was given a hand, a finger of which was to take a grisly trajectory of its own.The reverent mutilations continued.
By the time the canonization process began in 1319, the corpse had been reduced to bones, from which the flesh had been boiled away. In 1396 the bones were moved to the Dominican monastery at Toulouse. The remains were relocated to the church of St. Sernin during the French Revolution, then returned to the monastery in 1974. They rest there today.