The Unfortunate Priest And Dead Body





In a province of Prussia, a man being dead, was carried, as is

customary, into the church, the evening previous to the day of his

interment. It is usual to place the corpse in an open coffin; and a

priest, attended only by a boy of the choir, remains all night praying

by the side of the dead body, and on the following day the friends of

the deceased come to close up the coffin, and inter the corpse. On this

occasion, after the evening service had been performed, every one

retired from the church: and the priest, with the young chorister,

withdrew to supper; but soon returned, and the former commenced the

usual prayers. What was his astonishment, when he beheld the dead body

rise from the coffin, and advance towards him. Terrified in the extreme,

the priest flew to the font; and, conjuring the corpse to return to its

proper station, showered holy water on him in abundance. But the

obstinate and evil-minded spirit, disregarding the power of holy water,

seized the unfortunate priest, threw him to the ground, and soon, by

repeated blows, left him extended, without life, on the pavement. Having

committed this act of barbarity, he appeared to return quietly to his

coffin. On the following morning, the persons who came to prepare for

the funeral, found the priest murdered, and the corpse, as before, in

the coffin. Nothing could throw any light on this extraordinary event

but the testimony of the boy, who had concealed himself on the first

movement of the dead body, and who persisted in declaring, that he saw

from his hiding-place the priest killed by the corpse. Conjecture, and

endeavours to discover the truth, were alike vain, tormenting, and

fruitless. Many resources were tried; for it was not every one that

submitted themselves to the belief of a dead body rising to kill a

priest, and then quietly resigning itself to the place of its

consignment. Many years afterwards, a malefactor, condemned to death for

various crimes, and brought to the torture, confessed, that having (for

some unknown reason) conceived an implacable hatred against the priest

in question, he had formed the design of thus avenging himself. Having

found means to remain in the church, he seized the moment of the

priest's retiring to supper, withdrew the dead body from the coffin, and

placed himself in its stead, in the shroud and other appurtenances.

After executing the murder of the priest, he returned the corpse to its

place, and got unperceived out of the church, when the friends of the

deceased came in the morning to attend the funeral.





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