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The 67 miracles of Lourdes

2010-02-10

Her spectacular cure was a test case that started an era of reported miracles that’s lasted ever since.  These claims have increased over the years, and led to the setting up of a “Medical Bureau” at the Marian shrine in 1905. The office studies cases of those who claim to have been miraculously cured.

Dr. Patrick Theillier
Head of Medical Bureau, Lourdes

"We’re receiving on average fifty voluntary and spontaneous declarations a year – that works out at almost one a week".

About ten of these declarations will go on to be fully investigated.  The goal: to ensure the cure is genuine and there’s no natural medical cause.

Dr. Patrick Theillier
Head of Medical Bureau, Lourdes

"Of course, people get better here simply by being in Lourdes, taking effort, time and money to come here. It’s normal that people will feel better for coming here, so I’m very prudent with each case".

Prudence is a key word for Doctor Theillier.  It takes a minimum of 10 years to recognize if a person has been miraculously cured.  The most recent certified miracle belongs to an Italian woman healed of a heart condition in 1952.  The Church formally recognised the miracle  in 2005.

Dr. Patrick Theillier
Head of Medical Bureau, Lourdes

"There are three phases: the claim of the patient, the work of the doctors, and the Church’s confirmation".

The work of verification is meticulous and complex.  Research is carried out by Dr. Theillier and his medical assistants before being passed on to the Church to make the the final decision. 

Dr. Patrick Theillier
Head of Medical Bureau, Lourdes

"The cure must have taken place immediately, instantaneously, and without convalescence. These are important and distinctive criteria because they don’t occur in the field of normal medicine".

Since the 1st Lourdes miracle in 1858, 8000 claims have been made… and registered by the Medical Bureau. But the number of genuine miracles is much smaller.

Dr. Patrick Theillier
Head of Medical Bureau, Lourdes

"In the last 149 years, only 67 miracles have been officially acknowledged by the Church.  Therefore, less than 1 percent are recognized as genuinely miraculous.  This proves that the Catholic Church doesn’t run after miracles, she is always very prudent with these cases". 

Physical miracles are an extraordinary phenomenon… but many other pilgrims make their way to Lourdes for moral healing or spiritual comfort… less spectacular miracles perhaps, but nevertheless important for those Catholics coming to the most important Marian shrine in Europe.