Of the 7,000 cases of unexplained cures that have been recorded at Lourdes, only the 70th was formally declared by the Church to be miraculous just this week by Bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonin of Beauvais.
Perhaps the most famous Marian shrine in the world is at Lourdes, where in 1858 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the 14-year-old peasant girl, Saint Bernadette Soubirous. Between February 11 and July 16 of that year, Our Lady appeared to St. Bernadette 18 times at the Grotto of Massabielle along the Gave de Pau river. The most acclaimed element of Mary’s appearances to St. Bernadette was what occurred during the ninth apparition, on February 25. It was then that Our Lady directed St. Bernadette to uncover a miraculous spring, telling her to drink and wash from its waters. She was observed by the crowds stooping over the muddied ground within the grotto and then scraping at it until a little water appeared. She drank from it, muddying her face to the point that she appeared to have gone mad.
She was then led away and most in the crowd concluded the spectacle had gone too far. Yet, that afternoon people returning to the grotto discovered that a spring had emerged from the hole St. Bernadette had dug. Out of devotion, they filled bottles with the water and took them home. This spring would eventually produce clear, flowing water which flows to this day and has resulted in thousands of miracles of healing since it was uncovered.
Last summer, while I was on pilgrimage to Lourdes, I conducted an interview with Doctor Alessandro de Franciscis—the “useless” doctor of Lourdes—for CWR. Dr de Franciscis is the Médecin Permanent—that is, the permanent, in-resident physician of the Lourdes sanctuary and president of the Bureau des Constatations Médicales de Lourdes, or the Lourdes Office of Medical Observations. This office was founded in 1883 to record, study, and judge the hundreds of cures reported by pilgrims who came to Lourdes to wash in the waters of the spring revealed by the Mother of God in her apparitions to St. Bernadette.
Since then, 7,000 cases of unexplained cures from severe medical conditions have been recorded. In my September 2017 article I reported how a total number of 69 of them investigated by the Lourdes Office of Medical Observations have been declared miracles by Church authorities, and I detailed the latest of them, which occurred in 2013. That was the “latest” miracle—until now. The 70th miracle has just been affirmed by the Church this past Sunday, February 11—the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 160th anniversary of Mary’s first apparition to St. Bernadette.
79-year-old Sister Bernadette Moriau is a religious of the Oblate Franciscans of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her convent is located in Bresles within the Diocese Beauvais in the north of France. She had been suffering from a condition known as “cauda equina syndrome” for nearly fifty years of her life. CES is a compression of the spinal nerve roots that often leads to a permanent paralysis of the legs. This condition forced her to undergo four operations on her spinal column between 1968 and 1975. One foot became permanently twisted requiring her to wear a brace and use a wheelchair. By 1987 she had lost the ability to walk.
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