By J. LYLE CAMERON, M.D., F.R.C.S., F.R.C.O.G.
MODERN MIRACULOUS CURES : a documented account of miracles and medicine in the 211th Century. by Dr. F. Leurat and Dr. Henri Bon, translated from the French by John C. Barr). D.C.L. and A. T. Macqueen,
M.B., M.R.C.P.E. (Peter Davies, las.).
THIS important book is pre' ceded by a letter of appreciation from His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. This in itself is an indication of its merits. The authors have set out to discuss miraculous cures. principally at Lourdes, entirely from a medical point of view Each case is a clinical study, Erst as regards its past history. with careful notes made at the time of examination, then with a full recording when the case came to Lourdes, and finally at a subsequent searching examination.
IN spite of its close adherence to medical records, this is a book for the public to read; they will understand most of the scientific terms and explanations which are used, and it will help to drive home the fact that most careful investigations are made in every case of miraculous happenings, whether they take place at Lourdes, Fatima or other Shrines.
Indeed one comes to the conclusion that there have been many more miracles than have been recorded.
Before any happening is regarded as a miracle, it must be proclaimed as such by the Church. and not hy any scientist or group of scientists who supply the hard facts to the Holy Sec. who express any final judgment.
The task of all medical men connected with a Shrine is to discover the facts. to record them accurately and to present them for investigation to the competent bodies representative of the Church.
The Medical Bureau at Lourdes was officialty set up in 1884 by Monsignor Billere, and was under the direction of Dr. de SaintMaclou. Prior to that time, however, an official body of a kind was in existence to supervise the cures.
Indeed a close relationship between the events at Lourdes and medical interest had existed almost from the first. A certain Dr. Dozous. although utterly sceptical
of anything allegedly supernatural, was really the first to record from personal observation events of a miraculous nature.
AN example is the case of a quarryman, Bouriette, who, in charge of a blasting operation, lost the sight of an eye due to corneal scarring.
He came to Dr. Dozous in 1858 to ask his advice regarding the " Bernadette Spring." as he had heard that the application of the waters had miraculous curative effects.
The doctor told him to try it and if any result were obtained, Dr. Dozous himself would investigate the matter.
The quarryman bathed his eye in the muddy water and immediately noticed that he could see well with both eyes. Bernadette herself was present at the time, hut the quarryman did not wait to thank her, but rushed back to Dr. Dozous, who made careful test S to prove that the man could now read with a formerly blind eye.
This is the first medical record
ing of a miraculous cure. The doctor is said to have remarked " I could hardly have been more shattered if a thunderbolt had fallen at my feet."
ANOTHER case in the same year was that of a boy, Bouhohorts, of eighteen months. with osteomalacia and febrile wasting. His death was expected hourly, and his father and neighbours bad prepared a shroud.
His mother. however. carried the child to the Grotto, where a catch basin had been dug. and immersed him for 15 minutes in the icy water (48 deg. F.). Dr. Dozous, with his watch. observed this.
Next morning the baby was alive and even showed signs of activity. The mother fed and left him. A few moments later, the little boy climbed out of his cot
and ran to join her. All signs of ostcomalacia and wasting disease had disappeared. and it must he
remembered that the child had never moved before and of course had not walked.
It was Dr. Dozous' recordings of these events that initiated the medical supervision later carried out at Lourdes. • Dr. de Saint-Maclou was succeeded by Dr. Boissarie in 1892 and his meticulous care in investigating fully every case unmasked several frauds. This unremittingly careful and industrious observer set a high standard of proficiency. It is hoped by many that he may ultimately be beatified. He died in 1917.
ANATIONAL Medical Commission of 14 eminent physicians and • surgeons was appointed in 1947 by the Bishop of Tarbes to supervise all the work of the Medical Bureau in order to give complete reliability to all the scientific facts in connection with miraculous cures.
This new organisation necessitated a new site with up to date facilities for examination and record taking.
In 1949 there were three million pilgrims. and more than twenty thousand were sick. Equipment improved year by year and in 1950 an International Medical Association was founded at Lourdes comprising three thousand members.
About this time a comprehensive Library was established; new and advanced X ray apparatus was installed in 1949. replacing older equipment. This was bought, transported and installed by Dutch 'Catholics. An electro-cardiograph was added by the French Catholics of San Francisco_
FRAUDS are continually being
attempted and details of the false " cures " claimed are given. An interesting chapter is devoted to the investigation of miraculous cures, and the procedure for beatification and canonisation. Many instances of miraculous cure arc given in detail.
This is only a brief outline of the account of the medical work at Lourdes and other shrines and Dr. Leurat and Dr. Bon are to be congratulated on an outstanding hook. That one is not conscious of reading a translation is a tribute to Dr. Barry and Dr. Macqueen of St. Andrew's.