Swedish scientists have found the body of five-month-old foetus concealed under the feet of 336-year-old body of Bishop Peder Winstrup in Lund cathedral.
“One of the main discoveries when we conducted the CT scanning was that Mr Winstrup is not alone in the coffin,” said Per Karsten, director of the historical museum at Lund University.
“Actually, he has a companion, a small child, a five- to six-months-old foetus of a human child, and it has been deliberately concealed under his feet at the bottom of the coffin – so maybe there is a connection.” Karsten added.
A proper DNA test has been scheduled for both bishop and baby to see if they are related.
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However, it is believed by Karsten that the baby may have been illegitimate and destined for burial in some unsanctified ground, and that somebody took advantage of the bishop’s burial to give it a Christian resting place.
According to the guardian.co.uk, Bishop Winstrup was a scholar, scientist, collector and theologian, and one of the founders of Lund University in 1666, a citadel of learning that is now ranked among the top 100 in the world.
Winstrup was appointed Bishop of Lund in 1638, a title which he held as the diocese and the region moved from Danish to Swedish control.
He died in 1679 of pnuemonia after long and painful illnesses which included arthritis, gallstones, gout, and tuberculosis.
Winstrup's coffin was opened in order to apply modern scientific techniques to his body which is known to be in remarkable condition.
It was in this attempt that the scientist were shocked, not only at the fact that the body was not embalmed; but that the clergy was not alone in his coffin.
The bishop's body was naturally dried out with all its internal organs.
He was buried on a mattress stuffed with herbs including juniper and wormwood, and a pillow of hops, which the scientists believe would not just have masked the smell but helped preserve the remains.
“The gall bladder also has several gallstones, which could indicate a high consumption of fatty food,” said Caroline Ahlström Arcini, an osteologist working on the project.
Investigation further showed that Bishop Winstrup had also injured a tendon in his shoulder, this wound Caroline said "meant he would have had difficulty even with simple tasks, such as combing his hair or putting on a shirt."
It was observed that His clothes were also perfectly preserved , although the colors had faded.
Officials at Lund have confirmed that more tests are planned, but the two bodies will eventually be reburied – together.
Many are eagerly waiting to hear what the tests prove, could it be that Bishop Peder Winstrup and the baby were related or could it be that the baby was yet another grave gift in some weird religious ritual.
Whatever it be, only time will tell.
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