Our Lady of Lourdes (a miracle)

Friends in Christ,[i]  
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, and it is also World day of the sick. In 1858, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, at Lourdes, France. There, Mary gave us a miraculous spring, from which have come many cures. Some cures of the body, some of the soul. Here is one:

In 1912, Dr. Alexis Carrel was awarded the Nobel prize for his work in vascular anastomosis. His work initiated all the major advances in modern surgery. In the 1920s he was practically a celebrity of New York City. Many used to say that Dr. Carrel would soon discover the secret of immortality. But Carrel had a brush with immortality in another way. This happened when he witnessed at close range a miraculous cure in Lourdes. In fact, he witnessed two such cures.

He came from a devout Catholic family, but by the time he entered the University, he no longer practiced his religion. In 1902, a friend asked him to take his place, as the doctor on a train carrying sick people to Lourdes. He did not believe in miracles, but he did want to see if it was true that wounds healed faster at Lourdes, as he had heard. What happened from that moment on was written down by Carrel, but not published until 4 years after his death.

On the train he met and examined a girl, Marie Bailly; her abdomen was swollen and hard. Marie had been written off for dead by her doctors in Lyon, she had tuberculous peritonitis. Dr. Carrel gave her some morphine by the light of a kerosene lamp and stayed with her. Arriving at Lourdes, she asked that some water be poured on her stomach. It caused her searing pain all over her body.  
Still she asked for the same again. This time she felt much less pain, and when the water was poured on her the third time, it gave her a very pleasant sensation. Meanwhile Carrel stood behind her, with a notepad in his hands. He marked the time, the pulse, and other clinical details.

Half an hour later, the girl’s pulse slowed to normal. The blanket covering her stomach had flattened out; pulling it back, Carrel saw that her abdomen was flat and that it felt soft and normal. She was quickly examined by a team of doctors. The next morning she got up on her own and was already dressed when Carrel saw her again. ‘What will you do with your life now?’ he asked her. ‘I will join the Sisters of Charity to spend my life caring for the sick, she said.

Carrel continued to take a great interest in her. He had her given regular tests by psychiatrists and for evidence of tuberculosis. Marie lived the arduous life of a Sister of Charity until the age of 58. All of this, he wrote down, but publically, this famous doctor would not admit to miracles. He kept going back to Lourdes so that he might see more cures. In fact, he did. In 1910, he saw the sudden restoration of the sight of an 18- month-old boy who was born blind. Nevertheless, he continued to search for natural explanations.

For 32 years in his restlessness and searching, nothing brought him any closer to the faith of his childhood. Marie Bailly died in 1937. Undoubtedly she began her work in heaven: praying for the doctor who had helped her. The next year, in Carrel’s searching, something happened when he met a Trappist monk named Father Alexis. Somehow, he began to change. Years later, as he was dying in Paris, he asked for Father Alexis. The priest jumped on a military train and arrived just in time to administer the final sacraments to Carrel.
Our Lady of Lourdes has worked many physical healings, but she continues to work many other, more important healings.


[i]  Adapted from an article by Rev. Stanley L. Jaki, from the annual Joseph M. Gambescia lecture given at the conclusion of the 19th World Congress of FIAMC and the 67th Annual Meeting of the Catholic Medical Association, September 13, 1998.

 

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