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Paris, France

The wax and bones relics of Saint Vincent de Paul

Saintly bones pressed into a wax effigy of a Catholic superstar. 

Inside the sober-looking church of the Lazarists Mission, the uncanny wax effigy of Saint Vincent de Paul lies for eternity.

Saint Vincent de Paul, a 17th century priest who dedicated his life to serving the outcasts, orphans, and the destitute, was a saint among saints.

As popular as he was pious, Saint Vincent was canonized in 1737 by Pope Clement XII. In record time, the new saint became such a Catholic superstar that in 1969, Pope Paul VI even added his annual veneration on the official calendar to the 27th of September, relocating the feast day for the apparently less cool Saint Cosmas from the 27th to the 26th.

To view these waxy remains, follow the humble story of Saint Vincent de Paul through the temple, recounted along the central nave though ornate stained glass and the canvas of Brother Francois, pupil of the French painter Ingres. In the choir, an intricate staircase leads you to the holy treasure — the ex ossibus relics (the bones) are encased in the wax figure of the saint, displayed in an imposing vault made of glass and pure silver in 1830 by Odiot, the best goldsmith of his era. 

 

Know Before You Go

When you are inside the chapel, you can access where the wax statue is installed by going on the left or on the right behind the altar. There are quite secret stairs you can take to see the relics (and also have a splendid view of the chapel).