For hundreds of years, a mystery surrounded the cathedral of Venzone, a small city in the province of Udine, Italy. Instead of decomposing normally, bodies buried in the tombs beneath the cathedral were perfectly preserved and still recognizable decades later, a fact which led the townspeople to periodically retrieve and commune with their dead loved ones. In modern times, scientists finally traced the source of this wonder to Hypha tombicina, a microscopic, parasitic fungus that rapidly dehydrates the bodies before decomposition can even begin.
The 1722 Petit Albert describes in detail how to make a Hand of Glory, as cited from him by Grillot De Givry:Take the right or left hand of a felon who is hanging from a gibbet beside a highway; wrap it in part of a funeral pall and so wrapped squeeze it well. Then put it into an earthenware vessel with zimat, nitre, salt and long peppers, the whole well powdered. Leave it in this vessel for a fortnight, then take it out and expose it to full sunlight during the dog-days until it becomes quite dry. If the sun is not strong enough put it in an oven with fern and vervain. Next make a kind of candle from the fat of a gibbeted felon, virgin wax, sesame, and ponie, and use the Hand of Glory as a candlestick to hold this candle when lighted, and then those in every place into which you go with this baneful instrument shall remain motionless
In 1968, Barbara Mackle, 20, was abducted by Gary Krist and Ruth Eisemann-Schier. Mackle was buried in a trench inside a box, which had an air pump, a battery-powered lamp, water, and food. When they received the $500,000 ransom, they gave vague directions to Mackle’s burial site. Mackle was rescued alive. She had spent more than 3 days underground. Krist and Eisemann-Schier were arrested and convicted. Eisemann-Schier served 4 years in prison, Krist served 10 years.