Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints, and Healing 1588-1999

Hardcover | December 10, 2008

byJacalyn Duffin

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It is now recognized that spirituality plays an active role in the experience of illness and healing, even when the sufferer turns to medicine for help. The relationship of medicine to the miracles at healing shrines, especially Lourdes, is well known. Less studied are the miracles associatedwith the canonization of saints. The Vatican Archives house the transcripts of the ecclesiastical investigations of all of the miracles credited to the intercession of candidates for sainthood. These documents contain verbatim accounts of patients, their families, and physicians. The testimony isfiltered and shaped by the formal questions of clergy, who are concerned not to be duped by wishful thinking or naive enthusiasm. Jacalyn Duffin has examined either the full testimony or the Vatican summaries of more than 670 miracles reported in 35 countries on six continents from the late 17thcentury to the 21st. She discovered that more than 96% of these miracles are healings from physical illness. Essentially, they are medical case histories, involving the active participation of doctors. Over the course of centuries, she found, these records display remarkable stability. The storiesof illness and healing follow a prescribed dramatic structure, like the arc of a novel, play, or opera, shaped by universal reactions to sickness and recovery. However, Duffin finds, some elements in the miracle files change over time: the number of doctors increases, the nature of evidence embracesnew technologies, and the diagnoses considered amenable to transcendent healing shift to incorporate new ideas about medical capability.

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It is now recognized that spirituality plays an active role in the experience of illness and healing, even when the sufferer turns to medicine for help. The relationship of medicine to the miracles at healing shrines, especially Lourdes, is well known. Less studied are the miracles associatedwith the canonization of saints. The Vatican...

Jacalyn Duffin is Hannah Professor, Cross-appointments in Departments of Medicine, Philosophy, and History and Faculty of Education at Queen's University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:December 10, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019533650X

ISBN - 13:9780195336504

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Table of Contents

List of TablesList of FiguresAbbreviationsAcknowledgementsPreface1. Making Saints: Miracles, Medicine and Evidence since 15882. The Supplicants and their Saints3. The Miracles: Diseases, Corpses, and Other Wonders4. Doctors and Medical Knowledge in the Canonization Process5. Healing as Drama: Gestures of Invocation and the Context of CureConclusion: Religion, Medicine, and MiraclesAppendix A: A Note on Sources and MethodAppendix B: Saints, Blesseds, and the Sources on their MiraclesAppendix C: Canonizations and Beatifications in this Study by YearNotesBibliographyIndex