How often are living people declared dead? More often than you’d think (or want to know about)! People brought back from the dead – presumably to deliver the Good Word – have been documented in history and medical books for hundreds of years. These are some of the more spectacular examples of people beating death. Enjoy this bone-chilling list of notable cases of people who were buried alive or brought back to life – true accounts of real-life resurrection stories and incidents of Lazarus syndrome.
Matthew Wall, Farmer
On October 2, 1571, recently deceased young farmer Matthew Wall was lying in a coffin on the way to his own funeral. Even though the day was cool and damp, the whole village of Braughing in Hertfordshire was out for the event, including Wall’s distressed fiancée. As the procession made their way to the church, one of the pallbearers slipped on the wet leaves, dropping the coffin to the ground. The commotion was surprising.
But when the men lifted the coffin again, they were even more shocked by what they heard next: the sound of knocking. Matthew Wall had come back to life and was banging on the walls of his own coffin!
Wall eventually went on to marry his fiancée and live for another 24 years. Since then, Braughing village has commemorated Old Man’s Day every year on October 2nd. To celebrate, village children bring brooms to sweep leaves from the lane in front of the church, presumably so no one slips on them. Any more dropped coffins, and they could have a zombie apocalypse on their hands.
Anne Green, Convicted Child-Killer
In 1650, Anne Green was convicted of murdering her bastard child and hiding its body at her boss’s house. Soon, she was sentenced to death by hanging and led to the gallows, where she was fitted with a noose. For her last words, she proclaimed her innocence and begged, “Sweet Jesus, receive my soul.” After the hangman kicked the little stool out from under her, Green’s body was left to hang for half an hour. During this time, her pals reportedly:
thump[ed] her on the breast’ and hung ‘with all their weight upon her leggs… lifting her up and then pulling her downe againe with a suddain jerke…which seems very rude to me, but apparently they were trying to quicken her death / lessen her suffering. Whatever.
Eventually, Green’s lifeless body was cut down from the gallows and put in a coffin, which was taken to a doctor who was going to dissect her. Just as the doctor prepared to slice her open from chest to gut, Anne’s corpse groaned. Hallelujah!
There are two versions (maybe more) of what happened next:
In one, doctors immediately began to warm her body, pour hot cordials in her mouth, and (doy) bleed her.
In the other, someone tried to kick her back into the land of the dead by stomping on her chest. The force of the kick was so strong that it completely revived her.
Either way, Green – having been through enough for one day – was granted a reprieve and declared innocent. She lived a long time after her resurrection and bore three more children, none of whom she was convicted of killing.
Marjorie McCall, Moneybags
In 18th Century Lurgan, Ireland, Dr. John McCall’s wife Marjorie fell ill with fever and died shortly thereafter. Since he was a doctor and therefore rich, Marjorie naturally had an expensive gold wedding ring – but at her death, neither John nor any other mourner was able to remove it from her swollen finger. Due to fear that her fever would spread, Marjorie was hastily buried in Shankill Cemetery, and news of the doctor’s dead wife spread throughout neighborhood.
Soon, some grave-robbers got busy digging up Marjorie’s coffin. When they pried open the lid, they were delighted to find that yes, the valuable ring was still on her finger. Try as they might, they couldn’t pull off the ring, so they agreed to saw off the whole finger. As the sharp blade cut into her skin, Marjorie came back to life, sat bolt upright, and shrieked like a tween with Bieber Fever. A miracle if there ever was one!
When the startled corpse-desecrating thieves fled, Marjorie was left alone to climb out of her grave and wander home. Across town, her widower Dr. John was boozing with some relatives, sorrowful at the loss of his wife but also pumped about his new-found bachelorhood. When he heard a gentle rapping, rapping on his chamber door, he opened it to find his dead wife, extra creepy and all wraithlike in her burial robes and bloody from the ol’ saw-to-the-finger ordeal. The shock was too much for the doctor. He instantly dropped dead on the floor and was buried in the grave Marjorie had just vacated.
St. Odran, Naysayer
In 548 A.D., Christian folks in Iona, Scotland, wanted to build a chapel near an ancient burial ground. The problem was: no matter what they did, the work they constructed was destroyed each night, so they had to start all over again the next day. Eventually, a guy named Columba got it into his head that if they buried someone alive in the foundation, they would be able to finish building the chapel.
With a promise that his soul would be safe, a monk named Oran or Odran or Odhran – Columba’s son or brother – volunteered (or was volunteered) to be buried alive, so he was. When that dirty work was done, the folks above ground finished the chapel. Hi-ho.
After some time, Columba started to miss Odran, so he opened the burial pit again.
– OR –
One day, the dead-and-back-to-life Oran shoved his face up through a wall and began to talk. He said:
There is no such great wonder in death. There is no Hell as you suppose, nor Heaven that people talk about.
When Oran began to try to escape his grave in the foundation, Columba flipped out and shoved him back down again, quickly covering the pit with earth. Or he had Oran’s body removed and buried somewhere else on grounds of heresy. His own brother. Or son.
Thomas à Kempis, Faithless
In life, Catholic monk Thomas à Kempis (probably) wrote The Imitation of Christ, which everyone agreed was a pretty good and pious publication. Some time after his death in Zwolle in 1471, Church authorities began to think Thomas would make a good saint. They exhumed his body with plans to go forward with his canonization, but were bummed to find scratch marks inside the coffin lid and splinters embedded beneath Thomas’s nails. Despite the holy miracle of his resurrection after death, Thomas was denied canonization and never became a saint. After all, what kind of candidate for sainthood would try to escape his fate of death?
Ng Swee Hock, Brother-Hater
April 2011 – After getting into fisticuffs with his own brother, 65-year-old Ng Swee Hock sustained injuries so bad that not even a ventilator machine could revive him. Doctors at a Penang, Malaysia, hospital did CPR on his body for 45 minutes, but at around 11 AM, they gave up and pronounced him dead.
Two-and-a-half hours later, Ng started to breathe again.
February 2010 – After falling ill from a serious condition, a 45-year-old woman in Cali, Colombia, was declared dead. Staff at a medical clinic signed her death certificate, and her body was transferred to a funeral home to be prepared for her burial. Just as a worker went to inject her lifeless limbs with formaldehyde preservative, the woman miraculously began to breathe and move again.
South African Grandfather
July 2011 – An 80-year-old man in the Eastern Cape died due to complications from an asthma attack. His family called the morgue to come fetch his body, which was then locked in a refrigerated compartment to cool. Twenty-one hours later, while the family were meeting to discuss funeral arrangements, workers at the morgue heard someone yelling for help. Thinking it was a ghost, they called the police for backup. Upon their arrival, the cops released the reanimated corpse of the old man, who was very nearly scared to death – again.
2009 – During a Caesarean section delivery in a Kuwait City hospital, the woman in labor was pronounced dead. Her grief-stricken husband was handed her death certificate – along with their new baby, who was born with birth defects. The would-be mother’s body was whisked off to the morgue, where it was locked up with all the hospital’s other losses for the day.
Two hours later, the woman was struck with life again, but in a very dark, very cold place. She screamed and banged on the door of the deep freezer until a worker finally heard her. (Why do these things lock from the inside, anyway?) Upon her release, the woman’s husband was called back to the hospital to return her death certificate, which he was not allowed to keep as a souvenir.
Old Polish Lady
June 2009 – A man called an ambulance when his 84-year-old wife fainted. The emergency service doctor declared the woman dead and sent her to the morgue. She lay deceased for several hours in line waiting to be embalmed and whatnot, but then the Holy Spirit hopped into her again. Morticians noticed the woman’s body bag moving and unzipped it to find that her vital functions were all working again. Praise Him.
When Scottish theologian John Duns Scotus died of apoplexy in November 1308 in Cologne, Germany, he was buried in a tomb in the chapel of the Franciscan church. Some years later, his vault was opened again, and Scotus was found outside of his coffin. After his resurrection from the dead, he had tried hard to open the tomb from the inside, but to no avail. His hands were torn and covered in blood, and he was dead (again).see more on Duns Scotus
Nobody likes a know-it-all, and rumored psychic Rasputin was no exception. Though he was murdered several times, the Russian mystic stubbornly returned to the realm of the living time and again.
On June 29, 1914, his first murderer – a former prostitute named Guseva – stabbed Rasputin in the belly until his tummy parts came spilling out. Satisfied with her work, she proclaimed, “I have killed the antichrist!” But he came back.
On December 16, 1916, a group of Rasputin’s frenemies fed him cake and wine laced with enough cyanide to kill five men. When he didn’t die or even gag, one whipped out a gun and shot Rasputin in the back. He hit the floor dead, and the conspirators left to go celebrate. When they returned, however, Rasputin was alive again, of course, and all in a rage. They shot him a couple more times.
When Rasputin was resurrected again, the guys murdered him for the third time by beating him with clubs (and allegedly cutting off his ding-dong). Then they tied him up, wrapped him in a blanket, and dumped his body into the icy Neva River.
A few days later, Rasputin’s body was pulled from the river – dead, but with his arms outstretched. This meant he had come back to life again, at least long enough to break free of his restraints. Water was found in his lungs – evidence that he was alive for some time in the water. The autopsy report ultimately listed his cause of death as hypothermia, despite the poison, beatings, and four bullet holes he had sustained, including one in his forehead.
Lastly but not leastly, when Rasputin’s body was being burned in the woods in Saint Petersburg, he sat up in the fire and tried to move around. Now that’s persistence