Category Archives: Monsters

Shroud-Eaters From Italy

Medieval texts show the belief in vampires was fueled by the disturbing appearance of decomposing bodies, Borrini told The Associated Press by telephone.

During epidemics, mass graves were often reopened to bury fresh corpses and diggers would chance upon older bodies that were bloated, with blood seeping out of their mouth and with an inexplicable hole in the shroud used to cover their face.

“These characteristics are all tied to the decomposition of bodies,” Borrini said. “But they saw a fat, dead person, full of blood and with a hole in the shroud, so they would say: ‘This guy is alive, he’s drinking blood and eating his shroud.'”

Modern forensic science shows the bloating is caused by a buildup of gases, while fluid seeping from the mouth is pushed up by decomposing organs, Borrini said. The shroud would have been consumed by bacteria found in the mouth area, he said.

At the time however, what passed for scientific texts taught that “shroud-eaters” were vampires who fed on the cloth and cast a spell that would spread the plague in order to increase their ranks.
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Matteo Borrini / AP  This photo shows the 16th-century remains of a woman with a brick stuck between her jaws unearthed in an archaeological dig near Venice, northern Italy.

Matteo Borrini / AP This photo shows the 16th-century remains of a woman with a brick stuck between her jaws unearthed in an archaeological dig near Venice, northern Italy.

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