Tuesday, December 29, 2015

An Agnostic at Lourdes

From Church Pop:
Alexis Carrel was born into a Catholic family in a small town in France in 1873. He attended Mass regularly and went to Catholic schools run by Jesuits. Unfortunately, by the time he went to college he was an agnostic. He completely rejected the Catholic faith and wasn’t even sure if there was a God. However, he wouldn’t stay that way. And an extraordinary miracle from Lourdes helped lead him back.

 As an agnostic, Carrel studied biology and medicine and went on to become a world famous scientist. He developed a way to allow organs to live outside the body, a huge step toward organ transplants, and he developed new techniques for cleaning wounds. Most importantly, though, he invented techniques for suturing large blood vessels, which earned him a Nobel Prize in 1912. This is why his opinion about alleged miracles at Lourdes mattered so much.

Although the original apparitions at Lourdes had occurred in 1858, people in the early 20th century (as they are today) were still claiming to be cured by the water there. Despite the large number of alleged cures, the French medical establishment was firmly against the possibility that anything supernatural was happening.

Carrel himself was also a strong skeptic. That is, until he met a girl named Marie Bailly. He was on a train to Lourdes with a doctor friend to see the hysteria for himself in 1902 when he came across Bailly, who apparently had something called tuberculous peritonitis. It was a fatal disease. She was only half-conscious and had a swelled belly. Trying to help, Carrel gave her morphine, but said he didn’t think she’d even survive the rest of the trip to Lourdes. Other doctors on the train came to the same conclusion.

When they arrived, her friends carried her to the grotto, and three pitchers of water from Lourdes was poured on her. With each pour, she said felt a searing pain throughout her body. To the amazement of the doctors present, her belly started to flatten back to a normal size almost immediately and her pulse returned to a normal rate. By that evening, she was well enough to eat a normal dinner. (Read more.)

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