PARIS, France — A French bishop on Sunday declared as a miracle the cure of a Roman Catholic nun who was an invalid for nearly four decades and recovered after making a pilgrimage to Lourdes.
It was the 70th miraculous recovery attributed to divine intervention in Lourdes.
Bishop Jacques Benoit-Gonin of the Beauvais diocese north of Paris proclaimed the miracle 10 years after Bernadette Moriau, now 79, went to Lourdes, where a shrine marks a site the Catholic Church has recognized for dozens of other miraculous cures.
The pronouncement came after a decade of studies and tests by the International Medical Committee of Lourdes. The bishop has the last word on whether to approve a reported cure as a miracle.
Moriau experienced “a sudden, instantaneous, complete and durable change,” Benoit-Gonin said on the diocese web site. The characteristics alerted him to the possibility that a miracle had occurred, he said, noting that the Lourdes medical committee said the changes were unexplainable “in the current state of our scientific knowledge.”
The Lourdes shrine is where 160 years ago apparitions of Mary, considered the mother of Jesus, reportedly appeared to a 14-year-old peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous. The water from a spring in the Grotto of Massabielle is believed to have curative powers that attract pilgrims from around the world.
Lourdes Bishop Nicolas Brouwet announced the declaration of a miracle at the close of Sunday’s Mass at the shrine’s basilica.
Moriau had four operations on her spinal column between 1968 and 1975 and was declared a full invalid in 1980. One foot was permanently twisted, requiring her to wear a brace and use a wheelchair. She took what she said were significant doses of morphine for pain.
A miracle at Lourdes last was declared in 2013. It involved an Italian woman who visited Lourdes in 1989, suffering severe high blood pressure and other problems.
Not all declared miracles pass through Lourdes. A French nun, Marie Simon-Pierre, was declared cured of her Parkinson’s disease after praying to the late Pope John Paul II, who suffered from the same neuro-degenerative disorder. That helped fast-track the pope’s canonization as one of the two miracles needed for him to become St. John Paul II in 2014.