Image: Photographer unknown via Wikipedia
Mirin Dajo with rapier piercing his thorax from back to front
On June 23, 1947, Time Magazine reported from Switzerland on what it called the “Miracle Man” – a mysterious 35-year old Dutchman by the name of Mirin Dajo who confounded onlooking scientists, doctors and ordinary spectators when, apparently without any pain or internal injury, he was skewered straight through the chest with a 28-inch fencing foil. The skin on his torso appeared to bulge as the solid steel blade was pushed through by an assistant, but Dajo stayed stoic, unflinching. In the wake of the harsh reality of the Second World War, people were in search of miracles. Through Mirin Dajo, that is exactly what they seemed to get.
Long before the Jim Rose Circus came to fame in the 1990s, there was a single-man sideshow who put all their masochistic acts into the shade. Claiming he was invulnerable, Mirin Dajo became notorious for radical body piercings more extreme than any seen before or since. During the 40s, this living enigma was run through with sharp objects like spears and swords without suffering physical damage or even bleeding. How was he left alive? Was he, as some of the headlines of the time read, some kind of “second Messiah”? Was it just a trick, some kind of elaborate sleight of hand? Or could the truth be explained by science?