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44. Tomb-flies.

75

When the French, in their war with Pedro of Aragon, took Gerona, a swarm of white flies is said to have proceeded from the body of St. Narcis, in the church of St. Phelin (I copy the names as they stand in the Catalan[1] author) which stung the French, and occasioned such a mortality, that they evacuated the city. This is so extraordinary a miracle that there is probably some truth in it, because miracle-mongers have never the least invention, and because a curious fact in confirmation of it is to be found in the Monthly Magazine for December, 1805. “In preparing for the foundation of the New Church at Lewes, it became necessary to disturb the mouldering bones of the long defunct, and in the prosecution of that unavoidable business a leaden coffin was taken up, which, on being opened, exhibited a complete 76skeleton of a body that had been interred about sixty years, whose leg and thigh bones, to the utter astonishment of all present, were covered with myriads of flies (of a species, perhaps, totally unknown to the naturalist) as active and strong on the wing as gnats flying in the air, on the finest evening in summer. The wings of this non-descript are white, and for distinction’s sake, the spectators gave it the name of the coffin-fly. The lead was perfectly sound, and presented not the least chink or crevice for the admission of air. The moisture of the flesh had not yet left the bones, and the fallen beard lay on the under jaw.”

Such a swarm of white flies very probably proceeded from the Saint’s coffin; that he produced them by virtue of his saintship, and that they produced the infection among the French, would be believed in that age by all parties.


  1. Pere Tomich. ff. 39.