The story is Hugo Chavez’s body will be preserved and put on display like his hero Vladimir Lenin. This article from the UK’s Telegraph says that Ho Chi Minh’s and Mao Tse-tung’s bodies are also preserved. Must be the cool thing to do with Marxist dictators.
I’ve always found the practice odd, no weird, no creepy, no, odd, weird and creepy. And yes I know the Catholic Church has venerated relics from the bodies of some their saints but that was because the Catholic Church found aspects of the saint’s life worth emulating.
This by-the-way should not be confused with “incorruptibility.” Incorruptibility has to do with a person dying and their body not decomposing. That is different from mummifying a body or using modern means to preserve a corpse. This link goes to the top ten Catholic Saints on display whose bodies have not been corrupted. As far as I know there is no explanation for incorruptibility or why some Catholic saints decompose and others do not.
One thing seems certain though. Those that would preserve Chavez and those that preserved Mao and Lenin wanted to make sure they appeared incorruptible.
I guess the reason some Russians would want to preserve Vladimir, some Chinese to preserve Mao, some Vietnamese to preserve Ho and some Venezuelans to preserve Hugo would be to preserve something of their legacy, supposed accomplishments and as a reminder of the “good old days” when Vladimir, Mao, Ho and Hugo were the boss men.
I suppose had the Germans, Italians and Japanese won the Second World War some of their folks would have wanted to preserve the bodies of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo to preserve something of their legacy, supposed accomplishments and as a reminder of the “good old days.”
It seems that some dictators have the opportunity to be venerated by their followers while others not.
Whether it is the body of an incorruptible Catholic saint or the body of Marxist dictator the fact is what people are looking at is dust. It’s dust, nothing more, nothing less. It seems odd to venerate dust. But then again, if people do not venerate the Creator nor give thanks to him they will venerate something else (Rom. 1:18-25) that is corruptible, regardless of efforts to preserve the illusion it is not.
When sin entered the world (Adam) there were consequences and one of the consequences is that our bodies will return to the dust our bodies were made from.
By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
(Genesis 3:19 ESV)
Preserved dust does not offer hope from the curse of our sin problem. Only Jesus Christ offers genuine hope. He rose from the dead and those that have trusted in Him alone for salvation will rise as the material (physical) is reunited with the immaterial (the soul).
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20-22 ESV)
For the Christian, the first death ought not be feared. For those that refuse Christ there will be something worse than merely returning to dust.
- Preservation of Venezuelan leader’s body not easy (thestate.com)
- Why are some leaders’ corpses preserved? (bbc.co.uk)