Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: beheading

  • Can headless martyrs really walk? The belief in cephalophores in the Middle Ages

    Andrew Wodrich Washington, DC   Saint Denis of Paris holding his severed head. Mid-15th century depiction from an illuminated prayer book (Getty Museum, Los Angeles, Ms. 5, fol. 35v, 84.ML.723.35v). The halos surrounding his decapitated head as well as the stump of his neck suggest that the soul and saintliness of St. Denis remain in…

  • A detailed depiction of a “crime scene” circa 1455

    Daniel GelfmanIndianapolis, Indiana, United States The use of forensic science to determine the etiology and manner of death has been attempted for millennia. Early autopsies involved inspection of the deceased individual and possibly an internal examination. The performance of autopsies has been greatly influenced by religious and political forces.1 There is a record of the…