Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is there any real proof of miracles?

Dear Rev. Know it all;
Is there incontrovertible evidence of miracles? 
Nan’ B. Levere

Dear Nan’,
First, a question: is Levere a French name? Ah... la belle France, the language, the climate, the cuisine, the wine, the countryside... toutes magnifiques! Now the answer.
Yes, there is incontrovertible proof of the miraculous. You couldn’t be more cynical about miracles than are most Catholic priests. That is why there has been a certification board at the healing shrine of Lourdes in France that has, until recently, examined every claim of the miraculous. They have certified only 67 healings at the shrine as being inexplicable by natural causes. In fact, there are a lot more healings, than just 67, perhaps thousands, but the requirements for certification are so rigorous that most miracles go unrecognized.
For instance, among the requirements are that the sick must bring doctor's certification of their illness to Lourdes and that the cures must be instantaneous and permanent. To prove that they have been permanently healed, those healed must return to Lourdes annually for re-examination. Most of those who experience a healing don’t have the means to return, but that does not mean that they are unhealed.
The following is adapted from "Recent Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary" by Stephen Breen published by The Scapular Press in 1952.
The case of Pierre de Rudder was one of the most extraordinary. De Rudder's leg had been crushed by a tree. The leg was broken in two places. The bones were sticking through the skin, and his leg became infected. De Rudder was told it would have to be amputated. He refused. For some time he used crutches to get about, but his leg was in such bad condition that he was barely able to move. He asked his employer to finance a pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Oostacker, Belgium, (a local shrine in imitation of the more famous location in France). The Viscount du Bus, de Rudder's employer, did not believe in miracles and denied his request. Some years later, the Viscount died and was succeeded by his son, who likewise denied the supernatural, but gave de Rudder the funds out of pity.
De Rudder was a pitiful sight on the way, his leg sometimes swinging back and forth during the journey because his bones had never mended. There was an almost two inch gap between the ends of the bone where it had been injured years before and the leg could be turned completely. Heel forward, toes behind.
While praying before the shrine of Our Lady, for the grace to provide for his family, de Rudder was instantly cured. Hardly realizing it, he got up and walked without his crutches. (Remember, his leg had been useless and infected for a number of years.) Then he sank down on his knees, kneeling before the statute of Our Lady of Lourdes crying, "I'm kneeling! O my God!"
Rising again, he walked around the grotto without help of any kind. His wife saw him, exclaimed in amazement, and fainted. When de Rudder returned to Jabbeke, his native village, the Viscount was converted, and so were many others. De Rudder, who had been a public spectacle before his pilgrimage, was more so now.
A public novena of thanksgiving was made in his church and three quarters of the population attended it. There was no doubt about it: de Rudder had gone away a pathetic cripple, given up by the doctors; he had returned a healthy man—he could jump up and down to prove it!
One of de Rudder’s doctors, Dr. Van Hoestenberghe, was particularly impressed. An agnostic, he refused to believe the news until he had thoroughly examined Pierre himself. He was dumbstruck, but convinced. He was so moved by the miracle, that he prayed for the grace of belief and became a Catholic. What was more, he wrote to the Lourdes Medical Bureau at length, detailing every aspect of the infirmity and its cure. He went even further: he recommended that the case be brought to the attention of Emile Zola who had gone to Lourdes to investigate the reports of the supernatural there, and falsified the events he witnessed!
Pierre de Rudder died twenty-three years after his miraculous cure of unrelated causes. Some time later, Dr. Van Hoestenberghe obtained permission to do an autopsy. The examination revealed that there were still traces of the miraculous healing of the bones and flesh, and that there was a piece of healthy white bone more than an inch long between the two sections still scarred from former disease and infection. This piece of white bone joined the other sections together, and had been instantaneously created at the time of de Rudder's miraculous cure! There was no other explanation for it. The leg bones are still preserved.
Continued next week…...

  Rev. Know-it-all


  1. Rev. Know-It-All:

    One of the most celebrated miracles at Lourdes has been the instant healing of Pierre de Rudder's leg. Skeptical Inquirer has published an article in the January 2010 magazine that suggest the healing did not occur and Rudder had an alternative motive. As well the articles states that the leg was never visible prior to the healing. I read Father Glynn's account of this healing in "Healing Fire of Christ" and was very impressed but this new information tends to dampen the story. Can you please remark on the validity of the testing on Rudder as well as the article when you have a chance to review.


  2. I have also the same problem about this with an atheist whom I debated about this miracle

    The bones (see: grew together obliquely in a fashion a surgeon would not have been proud of. Also, that which would have indeed been beyond nature—the reconstitution of De Rudder’s dead tendon—did not occur (De Meester 1957, 106). One touted proof that the cure was instantaneous comes from the absence of thickening of the bone callus at the mending site, but this thickening could have been reabsorbed by the body in several months or a few years (Encyclopedia Britannica 2009, s.v. “callus”).