John Paul II miracle now called into question…

A new wrinkle has emerged in the beatification process for the late-John Paul II: The sudden healing of a French nun suffering from Parkinson’s disease may not have been a miracle at all.


[A] Polish newspaper recently reported that doubts had been cast about whether the nun might not have had Parkinson’s at all. Without citing sources, Rzeczpospolita, one of Poland’s most respected dailies, said the Vatican had summoned new experts to scrutinize the case.

The Vatican’s former head of its saint-making office, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, indicated two medical consultants might have had doubts.

According to the National Parkinson Foundation, an estimated 20 percent of patients thought to have the disease were found at autopsy not to have had it.

“Most movement disorders experts would agree that miracle cures of Parkinson or other movement disorders usually have a psychogenic component to the illness,” the foundation’s Dr. Michael S. Okun said when asked by e-mail by The AP about Parkinson patients.

I’m glad to see the investigators taking real care with this process. Sainthood isn’t a simple honorific Catholics award their popular dead.

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When young Joyce Galbraith mailed a Valentine’s Day card to her favorite aunt, she had every expectation the U.S. Postal Service would deliver it promptly. Unfortunately, that was not the case: The card arrived a few days ago, just over a month after Valentine’s Day and a good 76 years after it was mailed.

Addressed in cursive to Miss Margaret Davey, the envelope arrived at Duke by U.S. mail affixed with a 1- and 2-cent stamp.

The postmark: Feb. 12, 1934.

“There’s no telling where it was for these past 76 years,” said Mike Trogdon, director of Duke Postal Operations….

Records confirmed that Margaret Davey graduated from Duke’s School of Nursing in 1935. She married John Barbee, who fought in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II. They raised a son, James, and daughter, Patricia. Margaret Davey Barbee worked many of her 35 years as a registered nurse for the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Salem, Va., before retiring in Florida.

She passed away this year, on Jan. 10, at age 96, before the lost card surfaced.


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Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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