A LUMINARY IN LOURDES
Dr. Alexis Carrel (1873-1944) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1912 for his original and outstanding work on the surgical suture and transplantation of blood vessels and organs.
Earlier in his career, while working in the Medical School at the University of Lyons, he accepted the invitation of a friend and accompanied a group of patients from Lyons in France who were on a pilgrimage to Lourdes expecting a miraculous cure from their ailments. Dr. Carrel was sceptical about the reported miraculous medical recoveries at Lourdes. He was a gifted doctor and a dedicated researcher. Though born as a Catholic, he had given up religion and became a Sceptic following pagan philosophies.
One of the patients in the train bound for Lourdes was Marie Bailly (1878-1937). Her parents had died of tuberculosis (TB). She too contracted tuberculosis which advanced to tuberculous peritonitis (inflammation of the membrane covering the abdominal cavity). She was emaciated and had hard solid masses on her distended abdomen. She was sick with rapid heartbeat and abdominal pain. A surgery could not done as the doctors feared that she may die during the operation. Her condition was considered as incurable by the Doctors.The train carrying a large number of patients started from Lyons on 25 May 1902. Dr. Carrel examined her in the train and confirmed her critical condition. He was sure that she was a dying patient and thought that she may not reach Lourdes alive. He injected morphine to reduce her severe pain.
On reaching Lourdes, the patients were shifted to the hospital and examined in detail by several doctors including Dr. Carrel. They confirmed that she was in the terminal stage of tuberculous peritonitis. Her respiration was rapid and shallow and pulse rate was very high. Her abdomen remained distended and painful with hard solid masses.
Upon her insistence she was carried on a stretcher to the bathing place near the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. She was covered with a black blanket and her distended abdomen appeared like a huge hill. Holy water from the sacred spring was poured on her abdomen. Dr. Carrel remained close to her, watching her condition with scientific curiosity. The crowd recited loud prayers with raised hands and deep faith.
Dr. Carrel observed a sudden change in her condition. Her pulse and respiratory rate showed a return to normalcy. The sheet covering her distended abdomen flattened indicating a possible loss of the solid masses. She was ecstatic and turned towards the Grotto of St. Mary with full faith, hope and love. She raised her head and drank a cup of milk without any sign of pain. Dr. Carrel examined her and was surprised to find that the solid masses in her abdomen had disappeared miraculously. He was convinced that he had seen a real miracle. He entered the Basilica and prayed for the wisdom to accept the truth. The miraculous recovery of Marie Bailly was confirmed by a team of doctors and the full details were recorded.
Dr. Alexis Carrel joined the new Rockefeller Institute of Medical Research, New York, USA in 1906 where he continued his medical research with great dedication. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1912. In 1944 he wrote a book on prayer explaining his convictions on the healing power of fervent prayer. He renounced materialism and proved that real science and real religion were complementary and not contradictory.
Dr. Alexis Carrel wrote the manuscript of his historic travelogue entitled "VOYAGE TO LOURDES". It was published by his wife Anna de la Motte after his death. It has been translated into several languages. It reflects the reactions of a materialist researcher who encounters the supernatural phenomenon of miraculous healing.
Marie Bailly was examined over several years and declared to have obtained a permanent cure without any relapse of her former illness. She entered the Order of Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and ardently served the sick, the poor and the infirm for 35 years till her death in 1937. Dr. Alexis Carrel received the sacred sacraments and had a peaceful death in November, 1944.
© By: Prof. Dr. Babu Philip, Professor, Cochin University of Science & Technology, Fine Arts Avenue, Kochi-682016, Kerala, India, Prof. Mrs. Rajamma Babu, Former Professor, St. Dominic's College, Kanjirappally, Leo. S. John, St. Antony's Public School, Anakkal, Kanjirappally and Neil John, Maniparambil, Ooriyakunnath, Kunnumbhagom, Kanjirappally, Kottayam-686507, Kerala, India.
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