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The miracles of Lourdes: What criteria are used by the Church to recognize them?

2016-02-08

Since 1862, the Church has recognized the authenticity of the apparitions in Lourdes, this small French town that has become one of the great centers of pilgrimage for the sick.

Many say that they are cured of their disease through the intervention of the Virgin. In 1947, due to these claims, the Vatican decided to create a commission of medical experts to study case by case. They must demonstrate whether the alleged cure has a scientific explanation or not. Today, there are over 7,000 cases.

DR. FRANCO BALZARETTI 
International Medical Committee of Lourdes
"The methodology of our committee is very rigorous. If some elements go missing then a file is kept and archived in some cases.”

Franco Balzaretti is one of the 40 distinguished doctors and scholars working on the board of this commission. 

He explains that in order for a cure to be classified, it must be clear, instant and it can be demonstrated with medical documentation before and after. The cured illness must be serious and must demonstrate that previous treatments have failed to promote healing. Psychological cases are set aside because it is more difficult to determine whether or not there was healing.

The commission does not state whether there was a miracle, that is not their place. They only examine if the healing studies have any scientific explanation or not.

DR. FRANCO BALZARETTI 
International Medical Committee of Lourdes
"We are limited when declaring whether healing is not scientifically explicable. We are doctors. Our committee only declares a case a miracle only after an extensive study has been conducted.”

So far, the committee has declared 69 cases of unexplained cures. However, they assert that there could be more cases, yet to be accounted for, out there.


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