The Miracle Detective: An Investigation of Holy Visionsby Randall Sullivan
In a tiny, dilapidated trailer in northeastern Oregon, a young Mexican woman saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in an ordinary landscape painting hanging on her bedroom wall. After being met with skepticism from the local parish, the Catholic diocese officially placed the matter "under investigation." Investigative journalist Randall Sullivan wanted to know how
In a tiny, dilapidated trailer in northeastern Oregon, a young Mexican woman saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in an ordinary landscape painting hanging on her bedroom wall. After being met with skepticism from the local parish, the Catholic diocese officially placed the matter "under investigation." Investigative journalist Randall Sullivan wanted to know how exactly one might conduct the official inquiry into such an incident and set off to interview "the miracle detectives." These were the theologians, historians, and postulators from the Sacred Congregation of the Causes for Saints who were charged by the Vatican with testing the miraculous and judging the holy. What Sullivan didn't know was that his own investigation would lead from Vatican City in Rome to the tiny village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where six visionaries have been receiving apparitions of the Virgin Mary. These raptures have been the subject of more medical and scientific examination than any other purported supernatural event ever recorded. An examination of the longest-running Marian apparitions in history, and the author's own faith and beliefs as he himself becomes a miracle detective, are at the heart of Randall Sullivan's stunning new book, The Miracle Detective.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Read an Excerpt
The Miracle DetectiveAn Investigation of Holy Visions
By Randall Sullivan
Grove Atlantic, Inc.ISBN: 0-87113-916-2
Chapter OneThe priest chosen by Bishop O'Brien to investigate the events in Scottsdale was Father Ernest Larkin, a Carmelite theologian admired for both his intelligence and his spirituality.
As I began the interview I admitted that, no matter how often I heard them feathered or fudged, I still tended to accept three categories of possibility: Either the visionaries were lying, or they were delusional, or they were telling the truth. "Basically, I agree with you," Larkin replied, "but I also think that delusion, which sounds pejorative, needn't be. People may be telling the truth when they say they see this or that, but they may be unaware that the influence of the environment-which can be very subtle-encourages these experiences. I find it difficult to believe that Mary is standing on the edge of human consciousness, and maybe breaking in every now and then, here or there. The Blessed Mother is in this mysterious realm of Heaven." And there's no interface between that realm and ours? I asked. "I don't think so," Larkin answered. So he didn't believe in any apparitions at all? I asked the priest. "I can't say that," he admitted. "I believe in Lourdes. I believe in Fatima.
And I'm very curious about Medjugorje. Something of a profound nature has occurred in each of these places. I don't know to what extent these are the effect of natural causes and to what extent they are miraculous. It's almost impossible to know what comes from nature and what comes from grace."
We digressed into a discussion of St. John of the Cross; Larkin reminded me that Catholicism's most famous mystic poet had counseled the faithful to resist all supernatural experiences, even their own. "I really believe that these events send as many people away from religion as they draw near," Larkin said. "Because they seem so bizarre, so much out of the ordinary providence of God." If he went to Medjugorje, Larkin said, "I couldn't help asking, 'Why would the Blessed Mother appear here when the world is falling apart everywhere else, also?'" That's like asking why Jesus would raise Lazarus when there are so many other dead people, I observed. Larkin laughed. "You're right," he said. "It's the same question. I have to fall back on my a priori principle that we live in a realm of faith from which there is no escape."
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