New book says that at least 400 cures have been reported at apparition site of Medjugorje

         A new book by a medical writer says that more than 400 healings have been recorded at the apparition site of Medjugorje in former Yugoslavia -- from the healing of bone spurs and deafness to cancer remission and recovery from severe brain damage. 

         The book, A Place of Healing, by Connecticut medical writer John Dinolfo, documents several dramatic ones, including the case of a boy healed of spina bifida after his grandmother placed a photograph of him on the altar at St. James Church in the remote village. "[He] leads a normal life and very active life," writes Dinolfo of the boy today, "without symptoms of spina bifida" (a deformity in the spine that can result in extensive neurological disabilities). 

         The figure of 400 represents only those cases Dinolfo says were logged at the parish. Many others have gone unreported. But such cases are often crucial to the final acceptance of an  apparition and if at least some of them are one day established as officially "miraculous" may well figure into the drama of Medjugorje -- where controversy still rages over authenticity of the most publicized apparitions since Fatima. 

       Dinolfo recounts the story of Megan, a child from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, who was born with a potentially deadly eye cancer called bilateral retinoblastoma and was taken to Medjugorje in 1987 -- where Megan, by then three, reportedly saw the Virgin herself. "Megan was at the one end of the pew, and her mother [Jeannie] knelt in the center aisle, facing the front," recounts Dinolfo. "[Seer] Marija Pavlovic and others were in a room in the balcony of the church. As Jeannie continued to pray, she was unaware that the nightly apparition had started in the balcony room. Suddenly Megan called out, `'Mommy, is that the Blessed Mother?'... Then Megan, with outstretched arms, began to say loudly, in a sing-song voice, 'I love you Blessed Mother. I want to kiss and hug you.'"

         So striking was the occurrence that those around the girl began to weep. When asked later what she saw, the girl also mentioned "the big angel," the color blue, and three or four "baby angels." When the girl recovered, according to Dinolfo, her surgeon at Philadelphia's Wills Eye Hospital expressed belief that the force of prayer had "definitely" been at work.

         Other cures are legion. We recently reported the case of Art Boyle -- a Boston businessman who had cancer but no longer needed surgery when he returned from Medjugorje. While the figure of recorded cases may be around 400, there are almost surely thousands of others among the estimated 23 million who had visited by the fall of 2000. "According to the Franciscan priests of Medjugorje, countless healings of depression, suicidal tendencies, and other severe mood disorders have been reported in Medjugorje," says the book, being printed by the Ave Maria Centre of Peace in Toronto (416-251-4245) and distributed by Saint Andrew's Productions in Pennsylvania (412-787-9735) and expected out in the next several weeks. 

         In a final dramatic case Dinolfo writes of a woman with serious breast cancer who spotted a bearded man resembling Jesus as she was ascending Mount Krizevac -- the holy mountain with a huge cross atop. He was shabbily dressed and gave them a pine branch -- a symbol, she learned later, for the gift of life. 

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