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Back in the ninth century, the very powerful Roman emperor Charlemagne made an unusual request with regard to his burial. He asked to be buried sitting upright on his throne with his crown on his head, his scepter in his hand, his royal cape draped around his shoulders and with an open book placed on his lap.


That was in 814 AD. Nearly two hundred years later, Emperor Otto III wanted to see if Charlemagne’s burial requests had indeed been carried out. He ordered that the tomb be opened. They found the body just as Charlemagne had requested. Only now, nearly two centuries later, the scene was gruesome. The crown was tilted on the skeletal head. The scepter was tarnished. The mantle was moth-eaten. The body disfigured.


But, there on his lap was the book Charlemagne had requested to be placed there – the Bible. The one bony skeletal index finger of his left hand pointed to Matthew 16:26: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”