Vatican Puts the Kibosh on Miracles
Throughout the Centuries, one of the most enduring aspects of the Catholic Faith is the fervent belief of its followers in miracles. Many Saints earned their place in History and in Heaven by performing feats of the miraculous, and even those outside the Church have marveled in the alleged revelations to the faithful. From bleeding statues to images of Mary in watermarks, it seemed that to Catholics, incredible and unexplainable wonders were not just a thing of the past.
Right: A bleeding “Rosa Mystica” statue of the Virgin Mary; 1982.
This year, the Vatican has announced that there will be no more claims of miracles by the faithful without strict approval from the top. New guidelines are being drawn up to ensure that if one claims to have witnessed a miracle, they will be submitted to a battery of tests. The claimant will be subjected to psychological evaluations. Then, they will be visited by theologians who will verify that the miracle is in keeping with the Catholic doctrine. Atheists will be called upon as witnesses, and exorcists will determine that the work is of the Lord, not the Devil.
The most controversial aspect of the new regulations is the requirement of the witness to remain silent until they’ve been given approval by the Vatican. In other words, if you begin to experience Stigmata, keep it to yourself until the Pope declares it authentic, lest you be considered a heretic.
But, what of the alleged miracles beloved by today’s Church. St. Padre Pio, for example, is said to have received the “Stigmata”, bodily wounds or sores corresponding with the Crucifixion of Christ. Although a recent article in the http://notfarfromthetree.org/ claims that Padre Pio faked his wounds with acid, believers are unshaken in their faith, and the Catholic Church stands behind the claim of the miracle. Would Padre even have been canonized had he fallen under today’s rules?
Above: Padre Pio Receiving Stigmata During Mass
Consider the Our Lady of Lourdes; one of the most cherished miraculous appearances of the Virgin Mary. Mary is believed to have appeared to young Bernadette Soubirous and told her to command the Priests to build a church on the very spot of the miracle. A grand Basilica stands today in that location in Lourdes, France. Pilgrimages of the faithful are commonplace, and the Catholic Church stands behind the claims.
Above: The Grotto at Lourdes includes a spring that was revealed by the Virgin Mary, and followers are told to “drink at the spring and wash in it”. Many have claimed miraculous healing from the water, which is free to anyone who asks.
One wonders what would have happened if Bernadette Soubirous had been subject to today’s gag order. Would there be the same fascination and veneration of Our Lady of Lourdes had Bernadette been under the scrutiny that is called for now?
As a non-Catholic, I can’t say how these new rules will effect followers of the faith. I can only say that it seems awfully bureaucratic for a group that thrives on the Faith of followers. After all, in Roman Catholic belief, God chooses whom He wants cured, and whom He does not, and by what means. Bernadette said, “One must have faith and pray; the water will have no virtue without faith.”