Body parts can go missing after death. Here are some of them, from the new book Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Attack of the Factoids.
ST. NICHOLAS’S BONES
The real Saint Nick (who lived in ancient Greece and had a penchant for secretly giving gifts) was buried in the town of Myra, now a part of Turkey. In 1087, authorities in Bari, a rival town in Italy, hired pirates to steal the saint’s bones. The pirates managed to make off with about half of them, which are still stored in Bari. The rest of the bones were stolen by Venetian sailors ten years later during the First Crusade and deposited in a church there. In 2009 Turkey demanded the bones back from Italy; it’s still waiting.
Allegedly removed during the French leader’s autopsy in 1821 and given to a priest, the dried organ, which looked a lot like a one-inch piece of beef jerky, ended up in the hands of a urologist in New Jersey, who paid $ 3,000 for it in 1977. The man stored it under his bed for 30 years, and his daughter inherited it after his death.
Well, half of it anyway. After the fascist leader was executed and Italy was occupied at the end of World War II, the American government took away part of Mussolini’s brain, allegedly to study it, but mostly as a victory trophy. The Americans returned the brain to Mussolini’s widow in 1966.
THOMAS PAINE’S CORPSE
Thomas Paine’s death mask, right. (Image credit: Ben Ledbetter, Architect)
In 1819, ten years after the Common Sense author died a penniless, friendless drunkard in Manhattan, an admirer named William Cobbett dug up the writer’s bones and carried them to England for a fitting memorial. Unfortunately, Cobbett’s attempts at raising money for Paine’s burial stalled, and the remains remained in a trunk in Corbett’s attic… or so everybody thought. However, after Cobbett died in 1835, a thorough accounting of his belongings revealed that Paine’s bones were gone. They still haven’t turned up.
The article above is reprinted with permission from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Attack of the Factoids. Weighing in at over 400 pages, it's a fact-a-palooza of obscure information.
Since 1988, the Bathroom Reader Institute had published a series of popular books containing irresistible bits of trivia and obscure yet fascinating facts. If you like Neatorama, you'll love the Bathroom Reader Institute's books - go ahead and check 'em out!