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Cure Is Recognized as 68th Miracle at Lourdes
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Tuesday, April 5, 2011
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Mass is celebrated in the grotto at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in this 2008 file photo.
ANGERS, France (CNS)—The cure of a French TV repairman who completed a 1,000-mile hike after his paralyzed leg was inexplicably healed has become the 68th miracle to be officially recognized by the Catholic Church at the French Marian sanctuary of Lourdes.

"After profound expert examinations, the International Medical Committee of Lourdes has concluded this was a remarkable occurrence, an unexplained cure according to the current state of science," said Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers.

"This cure can be considered a personal gift from God for this man, an instance of grace and a sign from Christ the savior," he added.

Serge Francois, now 65, had been twice operated on unsuccessfully for a herniated disk when he traveled to Lourdes on a diocesan pilgrimage April 12, 2002.

He said the "unbearable flashing pain" in his left leg was replaced after a few minutes of prayer by an "intense sensation of good will and warmth," which continued until the paralyzed limb completely recovered.

The repairman, now retired, reported the incident a year later to the Lourdes medical bureau, and it was judged "remarkable" by the 20-member International Medical Committee Dec. 1, 2008. His case was studied by a church canonical commission in September 2010.

Francois completed the Way of St James pilgrimage through France and Spain to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela after the recovery of his leg.

In a March 27 statement, Bishop Delmas said the committee had concluded the cure was "sudden, complete at functional level, unrelated to any particular therapy and lasting until today, eight years later."

"It is certain that Mr. Serge Francois was totally and permanently cured at Lourdes," he said.

In an April 4 interview with Catholic News Service, the Angers diocesan chancellor, Msgr. Joseph Traineau, said Bishop Delmas' declaration should be treated as official recognition of the miracle by the Catholic Church.

"The word 'miracle' isn't used at Lourdes now, because of its connotations—we now talk about 'miraculous' or 'remarkable' cures, but the meaning is the same," said the chancellor, who co-signed the declaration.

"The diocesan bishop has publicly recognized that this was an absolutely unexplained cure, so this process is now complete. Although a cure can only be absolutely definitive once the person in question has died, this is indeed the 68th miraculous cure to be accepted by the church."

Lourdes, close to the Pyrenees in southern France, attracts about 6 million visitors annually and has been a place of pilgrimage since 1858, when St. Bernadette Soubirous experienced the first of 18 visions of the Virgin Mary while gathering firewood in February 1858.

To be declared miraculous, cures must be "found complete and lasting," involving a "serious illness which is incurable," and must involve a sudden "indisputable change from a precise medical diagnosis of a known illness to a situation of restored health."

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