Friday, June 11, 2010

Cause of death of Italian saint uncovered (Santa Rosa) Researchers have used X-ray techniques to uncover the cause of death of a 700-year-old Italian saint. 

Santa Rosa - who died when she was 18 or 19 years old - was most likely killed by a blood clot in the heart, say the Italian research team.

It is said the 13th Century saint had miraculous powers that allowed her to raise someone from the dead and to survive the flames of a burning pyre.

Her mummified remains are conserved in a monastery near Rome.

The research team had been asked in 1995 to carry out some preservation work on the body, which was showing signs of damage.

As part of the restoration work, they were able to take X-rays using a mobile device.

Rare condition
Historical records suggested she may have died of tuberculosis, the researchers said, but they found no evidence she had the infection.

What they did find was that she had Cantrell's syndrome - a rare condition causing defects in the heart and surrounding tissues.

Now an X-ray of the heart has shown a dark area suggestive of a probably fatal blockage, according to a report published in The Lancet.

Study leader Professor Ruggero D'Anastasio said: "Santa Rosa is one of the most important saints in the Roman Catholic Church and is revered by thousands of people.

"In the future we hope to analyse the heart with more modern technologies."

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