Probably the most famous of all miraculous locations is Lourdes in France, where St. Bernadette encountered Our Lady of the Rosary on a number of occasions beginning in 1858 of February the 11th. (Read a good version of the story at Mystics of the Church.) The grotto and spring (miraculously developed while St. Bernadette was in communion with Our Lady) have been a popular place of pilgrimage and miraculous healing ever since.
Although over 7000 unexplained cures have been documented, only 69 have officially been declared miracles.
It is not an easy process to have a miracle declared. The cure must be studied medically and must go through the stages from “Declared Cure” to “Unexpected Cure” then on to “Confirmed Cure”. By the time it is done, if the cure remains “unexplained”, but “confirmed”, then it can be declared a miracle. This is incredibly important, since the Church does not want to be fooled – especially when it says that something is miraculous. Obviously, this is not a fast process. The most recently confirmed cure took over 25 years to be approved! So, anything which has happened more recently isn’t going to be shouted over your Facebook news feed for awhile now.
This article from Mystics of the Church talks a bit about the high-level of proof required to evidence a miracle, and how it should not diminish our understanding that many other miracles have happened that simply could not be proven.
Thankfully, in recent years, the standards of Bishop recognition have relaxed a little. This isn’t to diminish Vatican recognition (which requires the condition to be medically confirmed, but never treated!), but to recognize the fact that many conditions which are healed either weren’t initially confirmed by a doctor or received some treatment (such as in the case of cancer) which may or may not have helped the condition. As such, the new levels of recognition have three, common-sense, tiers: ‘unexpected healings’, ‘confirmed healings’, and ‘exceptional healings’ (or miracles).
Doctors are encouraged to help advise on the truth of miraculous healings. This article from the BBC reports on a modern doctor who is doing just that. Even he can tell you that the list of miracles is just the “tip of the iceberg,” of the amazing healing stories from Lourdes.
Here is a partial list of confirmed miracles of the faithful at Lourdes:
1858, March – Catherine LeTapie received healing of broken/paralyzed fingers (from an accident 17 months previously) by bathing them in the water at the grotto.
1858, March – Louis Bouriette is one of the most famous healings… having had no vision in his right eye for two years after a mine accident 19 years previous. He prayerfully bathed his eye with the water from the fountain. After doing this repeatedly in a short space of time, he was able to see perfectly from his right eye. (His is not the only confirmed miracle involving the healing of eyes.)
1858, July – Justin Bouhort, a 2-year-old boy, nearing death from “consumption” (tuberculosis), was bathed by his desperate mother in the newly-dug pool of the grotto. People around her tried to stop her from “killing her child” – yet, when she returned home with the boy, he quickly recovered and lived to witness the canonization of St. Bernadette. (There are other approved miracles involving miraculous cures of tuberculosis which was once so routinely fatal.)
1858, October – Madeleine Rizan was at the point of death following cholera and resulting paralysis. Her daughter brought her some Lourdes water. After drinking a few sips, and having the water applied to her face and body, the illness completely vanished and regained normal functionality for the remaining 11 years of her life.
1875, April – Pierre de Rudder, living in Belgium, had his left leg crushed and severely fractured from a fallen tree in 1867. The bones would not unite despite all treatment, but Pierre refused amputation at which point the doctors abandoned him. As an invalid, he made a pilgrimage to a replica of the Grotto of Lourdes in Oostacker. In the evening, he returned without crutches or wounds, his leg perfectly healed. He lived another 23 years, in his late 70s.
1938, August – Francis Pascal, a young child who had survived meningitis at the age of 3 was in poor shape having lost his vision and use of his lower limbs to paralysis. He took two baths in the fountain of Lourdes and thereby recovered his sight and regained the full use of his limbs.
1953 and 1954, October – Marie Bigot was cured in stages. Her first pilgrimage in 1952 resulted in nothing. In 1953, she recovered the ability to walk (she had been “bedfast” for over two years). In 1954, she recovered her hearing (deaf in one hear since 1951) and her vision (virtually blind since 1951).
1963, June – Vittorio Micheli had a malignant tumor, a sarcoma, which destroyed his hip joint. After a pilgrimage to Lourdes, he returned in much better shape. Upon examination, it was clear he had no further pain, could walk normally and it was remarked about “the remarkable reconstruction of his hip.”
1987, October – Jean-Pierre Bely was a total invalid from multiple sclerosis, paralyzed and uncertain of being able to even survive the journey to Lourdes. He received the anointing of the sick and was able to walk by the time he returned home. The illness completely disappeared.
Even for Skeptics!
One of the most amazing aspects of Lourdes is the mere fact that you don’t need to have faith in advance in order to receive healing. Many skeptics have received healing and new-found or reaffirmed faith as the result of healing received to themselves or to someone they were close to.
Here are a couple of the miracles which happened to the doubters at Lourdes:
1901 – Gabriel Gargam, a lapsed Catholic, who had been thrown from a train in Dec 1899, and left paralyzed and with no hope of recovery. He refused his aunt’s pleas to go to Lourdes or to pray to Our Lady. He would not hear of it, but finally consented to go after many months of her pleading. He would faint and lay unconscious on the journey – one nearly abandoned for fear he would die. Upon arrival, he attended confession and received the Eucharist. He also was bathed in the pool, but it appeared there had appeared to be only the affect of “throwing him into a swoon” after which, it appeared that he had died. Wheeling him back to the hotel, they waited for the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to pass by. The priest pronounced Benediction over him and before long, he sat up, became strong enough to walk and eat a normal meal, as if nothing had ever happened.
1970, January – Serge Perrin was suffering with a thrombosis of the left carotid artery which was inoperable. He had insufficient circulation and was experiencing losses of consciousness. He was virtually blind. His first visit to Lourdes was uneventful. He did not want to go back for another pilgrimage, but his wife insisted, and he went to please her. After attending the Ceremony of Anointing the Sick, he began to feel sensation returning. By the afternoon, he could walk without the use of his walking sticks and could see better without his glasses. His improved condition was soon confirmed by his doctors, and again several years later to prove his cure was “lasting.”
This is but a short list of the many miracles which have happened at Lourdes.
Read the whole story of Lourdes which covers some of the early miracles recorded as the result of Our Lady of Lourdes’ intercession. The final statement of this article states:
“The Catholic Faith alone produces miracles, which are never seen among heretics. Plants of this sort cannot grow in a soil cursed by God; they can take root only in that Church where the True Faith is professed . . . God cannot sanction the performance of a miracle except in favor of the true religion; were He to permit it in support of error, He would deceive us.”
St. Alphonsus Marie de Liguori, Bishop & Doctor of the Church
I anticipate another article in the near future to further support this statement.
(For your order of healing water or other gifts from Lourdes, please see my link in the right column of this article!)
http://en.lourdes-france.org/ (Official site)
http://www.miraclehunter.com/marian_apparitions/approved_apparitions/lourdes/miracles1.html (details of the approved miracles)