The anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858 fell on a Sunday this year and so its commemoration is transferred to today, Monday, February 12th.
A Roman Catholic nun, disabled for almost 40 years, recovers after a pilgrimage to the Marian sanctuary of Lourdes.
The French bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonnin of the Beauvais diocese declared the healing of a Roman Catholic nun, Bernardette Moriau (79), miraculous. She was disabled for almost 40 years of her life. The bishop said the nun’s “sudden, instantaneous, complete and durable change” alerted him to a possible miracle. The Lourdes medical committee said the changes were unexplainable “in the current state of our scientific knowledge,” he added.
Sister Moriau had four operations on her spinal column between 1968 and 1975 and was declared fully disabled in 1980. One foot was permanently twisted, requiring her to wear a brace and use a wheelchair. She took what she said were significant doses of morphine for pain.
In a video published at the diocese website, [in French] Sister Moriau declared that as she returned home after a pilgrimage to Lourdes, she heard a voice telling her to remove her leg braces. Immediately after that, she was able to walk on her own again. She said she immediately did away with all her aids, from braces to morphine — and took a 5 kilometre hike a few days later.
She underwent extensive studies and tests by the International Medical Committee of Lourdes. The bishop has the last word on whether to approve a reported cure as a miracle. This has now been officially proclaimed the 70th miraculous recovery attributed to divine intervention in Lourdes.
Today, the Church commemorates the Immaculate Virgin Mary who appeared to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes, France, 18 times between February 11 and July 16, 1858. The memorial of Mary under the title of “Our Lady of Lourdes” was extended to the Universal Church by Pope Saint Pius X in 1907.
The apparition of Our Lady at Lourdes is one of the most celebrated events in the Catholic Church in the 19th century. In fact, the popularity of this devotion contributed to a renewal of the Catholic Faith in France and the shrine at Lourdes remains one of the most popular destinations for pilgrims in the world.
By Jim Dunning:
The Miracle Cures of Lourdes
Strange as it may seem, out of 7000 cases recorded over the past 150 years by the Medical Bureau of Lourdes, only 67 [at the time of original post] have been officially recognised as miraculous by the Church. This is undoubtedly because of the strict criteria applied to all the cases put forward. Nevertheless, Lourdes is besieged year after year by thousands of pilgrims, many of whom are seeking spiritual rather than physical relief. […]
Why are so few cures accepted by the Church as miraculous? The reason is that the requirements set out by the International Medical Committee of Lourdes for the validation of a miracle cure are extremely strict. The illness in question must be serious and the cure sudden and complete. There must be no need for convalescence. Another requirement is that no regular medication has been given since this would give rise to the possibility that the cure resulted from the treatment. Ironically, once a person is completely cured, it is no longer possible for tests to be carried out to verify the existence of the illness!
There is, of course, previous documentation to be considered with a view to establishing the medical history. And an assessment of the patient’s personality will help to eliminate false claims, genuine illusion or hysteria. A judgement is then made as to whether the cure is beyond the usual medical prognosis for the particular illness. When all these steps have been followed, a decision will be reached to either take no action or to undertake further examination, or to record the event as an “unexpected cure” for subsequent validation. The Bishop of the patient’s diocese, together with a doctor assigned by that Bishop, will then be advised of the result of the preliminary examination.
At Stage Two of the process, professional experts on the Committee compare the medical documents from before the alleged cure with those issued afterwards to ensure that there has been a definite change from a precisely diagnosed illness to a recovered state of health. What was earlier labelled an “unexpected cure” can then be designated a “confirmed cure”. According to the findings, each case is filed under the heading: ‘no further action’, or is validated under the heading: ‘supported and confirmed’.
The Third Stage sees the official recognition by the whole Committee of the exceptional nature of the cure in the light of the present state of scientific knowledge. The cure must not have a medical explanation; indeed, it must be seen to have occurred contrary to all medical predictions. The Bishop of Tarbes & Lourdes then forwards the complete file to the Bishop of the cured person’s diocese. That Bishop will then ‘canonically’ recognise the cure as miraculous on behalf of the Church.
It is clear that those cases which succeed in being officially recognised as miraculous have undergone a rigorous screening. There seems little doubt that many of the non-recognised cures are also genuine, in spite of their having failed to clear every obstacle in the prudently strict path to canonical recognition. That the Church is cautious in declaring a cure is understandable, even commendable.
An examination of the accepted cures associated with Lourdes is interesting. Most have taken place at Lourdes itself, but some have occurred elsewhere, either through prayer to Our Lady of Lourdes or through application of water originating from the Grotto.
Not surprisingly, the first cures were recorded soon after the start of the apparitions in February, 1858. The first was that of a local married woman named Catharine Latapie who had a paralysed right hand caused by a fallen tree. On 1st March, 1858, less than three weeks after the first apparition, this 38-year old mother made an early morning visit to the Grotto and bathed her arm in the small pool fed by the spring first unearthed by Bernadette. Immediately her fingers were cured and she returned home to give birth the same day to her third child. Twenty-four years later that child became a priest. […]
Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!
(For further examples of miraculous cures through Our Lady’s intercession at Lourdes, read on at MYSTICS OF THE CHURCH.)