40. The resurrection of Lazarus, whatever they may say, disaffirms nothing in regard to this principle. He was, they say, for four days in the sepulcher. But it is well known that some attacks of lethargy last eight days or more. They add that he smelt badly, which is a sign of decomposition. This allegation proves nothing more, as with some persons there is partial decomposition of the body before death, which is attended by a disagreeable odor. Death arrives only when the organs essential to life are attacked.
And who could be able to know if a disagreeable odor attended him? It was his sister Martha who said it; but how did she know? Lazarus having been buried four days, she could suppose it, but have no certitude of it. *
* The following fact proves that decomposition sometimes precedes death: In the convent of bon-Pasteur, founded at Toulon by the Abbot Marin, chaplain of the convict-prison for repentant females, was found a young woman who had endured the most terrible suffering with the calmness and impassibility of an expiatory victim. In the midst of the pain she seemed to smile, as if in a celestial vision. Like St. Theresa, she asked to suffer more. Her flesh was in shreds; the gangrene gained upon her limbs. By a wise foresight the doctors recommended the burial of the body immediately after decease. Strange enough! Hardly had she rendered the last sigh than all work of decomposition arrested itself, the death-like exhalations ceased, and during thirty-six hours she remained exposed to the prayers and veneration of the community.