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How does the Church recognize a miracle like the one just approved at Knock?

Knock Shrine
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A woman healed of multiple sclerosis 30 years ago is the recipient of the Irish sanctuary’s first official miracle.

The local Church at the Shrine of Our Lady’s apparition in Knock, Ireland, has recognized the first official miracle associated with the shrine.

A woman named Marion Carroll suffered from multiple sclerosis until she went to the shrine in 1989. She was healed as she was blessed with the Eucharist during benediction.

“I recognise that Marion was healed from her long-standing illness while on pilgrimage in this sacred place,” Bishop Francis Duffy of Ardagh and Clonmacnois said in a homily during a Mass at the shrine earlier this month.

“Marion was liberated from sickness and its impact on her and on her family. It is also a healing for which there is no medical explanation at present, it is definite and yet defies medical explanation.”

Read more: Who is Our Lady of Knock? The silent apparition

While many people claim to be recipients or witnesses of miracles of many types — apparitions, visions, healings, etc — and while many have said they’ve been cured during or after a visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, this is the first miracle associated with the shrine that has been officially recognized.

This is because in order for the Church to recognize a miracle, a thorough process must first take place.

One of the most common type of miracles is the sudden healing of someone. According to Michael O’Neill, “For the cure to be considered miraculous, the disease must be serious and impossible (or at least very difficult) to cure by human means and not be in a stage at which it is liable to disappear shortly by itself. No medical treatment must have been given, or it must be certain that the treatment given has no reference to the cure. The healing must be spontaneous, complete and permanent.”

In all cases the local bishop is the first authority to investigate a miracle. He creates a board of medical professionals to evaluate the event and then they report to him their results.

This evaluation is thorough and can take considerable time. The medical professionals will evaluate the current state of health of the person claiming a healing, and the person him/herself is interviewed to rule out trickery or any mental health issues that could make the person claim a healing. The infirmity is evaluated, to see that the circumstances of the healing were extraordinary.

Further study of the case considers the “before” and “after,” to ensure there was an indisputable change from a precise medical diagnosis of a known illness to a situation of restored health.

A large number of medical professionals will be consulted in this process.

In most cases the event is not verified as a miracle. For example, “the Lourdes Medical Commission, while documenting over 8,000 extraordinary cures, has only validated [70] of them.”

Whether it be an apparition of the Blessed Mother or a Eucharistic miracle, a team of scientists investigate the event to determine if it follows the rules of nature, or if it is impossible to explain outside of a supernatural cause.

Read more: What happens when a Lourdes miracle isn’t a healing, but is still miraculous?

Yet, despite this strict procedure, miracles are proclaimed on a regular basis.

Yet, despite this strict procedure, miracles are proclaimed on a regular basis. For almost each beatification and canonization the existence of miracles are a primary requirement, clearly showing the power of God through the intercession of an individual.

Still, even with all of this careful oversight, Catholics are not required to give faith even to approved apparitions, such as the one at Knock.

Read more: This map illustrates 500 years of Mary’s apparitions

Read more: 5 Lesser-known (but totally amazing) Marian apparitions

 

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