The Sunday, December 18 edition of the CBS television news magazine, “60 Minutes,” featured a 14-minute segment titled, “Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes: Investigating medically unexplained cures.” Hmm, I was curious to see what tack the show would take regarding the Lourdes “phenomenon” and watched it. But first, some historical background.
In 1858, fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes, France claimed that Mary appeared to her eighteen times at the Massabielle Grotto next to the Gave de Pau River. Later that same year, Catherine Latapie of nearby Loubajac traveled to the Lourdes grotto and claimed to have been cured of paralysis of two fingers due to the intercession of Mary. The Roman Catholic church subsequently endorsed the “miracle” and the Lourdes apparitions and set about building an immense, 126-acre pilgrimage shrine with many imposing structures (three basilicas and twenty-five chapels). French officials and entrepreneurs in turn set about building transportation and accommodation resources at Lourdes to process the pilgrim throngs. Three-point-five million pilgrims per year (9589 per day) flock to Lourdes seeking a blessing or miracle from Our Lady of Lourdes. Blessed “holy water” from a spring at the grotto, purported to have miraculous healing properties, is sold throughout the world. Although Lourdes has only 14,000 inhabitants, its 350 hotels and 40,000 hotel beds make it second only to Paris in tourist accommodations in France. There are 200 souvenir shops in Lourdes selling Marian tchotchke. Marian apparitions are big business.
In the 14-minute “60 Minutes” segment below, it is claimed that 70 medical miracles have occurred at Lourdes since 1858. Let’s use a conservative estimate and say 100,000 of the 3.5 million pilgrims who visit Lourdes each year seek a medical miracle. That would work out to a total of 16,400,000 people who have traveled to Lourdes since 1858 hoping for a medical miracle. The actual number is probably much higher, but based on our conservative estimate, 70 confirmed cures in 164 years works out to only a .0004 percent cure rate. The human body is a miraculous creation. Illnesses deemed incurable and/or terminal have been reversed and cured by the body’s own immune system. The mind also plays a large, sometimes unexplainable role in health. Alleged “miracles” may not be miracles, especially when the scrutinizing medical experts are connected to the RCC. Missing in all of this is the genuine Gospel of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Genuine salvation in Christ is the only cure for mankind’s sin problem.
Marian apparitions and Marian worship/veneration contradict the teaching of Scripture. The Roman Catholic church syncretically adapted pagan mother-goddess worship into the worship of Mary beginning with the Collyridians of Arabia in the 4th century. The Collyridians got their name from the collyris (Greek: “cakes”) offered to mother Mary.
Check out the 14-minute “60 Minutes” segment below. If you are a born-again Bible believer the idolatry will grieve your soul. It’s revealing that Jesus Christ is mentioned only once during the course of this 14-minute segment and only as a “possible” source of a mystical “inner-voice” communication. For an objective examination of how the Lourdes scam became a national and international sensation, see my review of “The Happening at Lourdes: The Sociology of the Grotto” by Alan Neame, here.
“60 Minutes” presented a Catholic-biased view of the Lourdes apparitions and “miracles.” Why didn’t the journalism show demonstrate some balance in its approach and include a critique from an evangelical minister? Perhaps evangelical ministers who take a critical approach regarding Romanism are getting harder to find these days?