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For a long time physicians have refused to study seriously the cases of miraculous cures. They have disregarded the fact that it is a huge scientific error to deny facts before examining them.

In 1858 a shepherdess [Bernadette Soubirous] saw in a vision a person whom the Catholic religion identifies as the Virgin Mary. Many cases of [sudden] cures were observed among the sick [visiting in Lourdes].

We do not discuss beliefs, even though we risk thereby scandalizing both believers and unbelievers. We rather say that it matters little whether Bernadette was a hysteric or a fool, or even whether she really existed.

What alone matters is to consider facts, inasmuch as they can be established scientifically, apart from all metaphysical interpretation.

To many thinkers nothing can be produced except by the interaction of the forces of nature and within the range of facts long since observed. When there occurs a phenomenon, sufficiently recalcitrant to being enclosed within the rigid framework of official science, it is denied as dangerous because it breaks the customary formulas to which the human mind loves to be confined.

The so-called scientific minds deny such facts; others consider them supernatural. Later the supernatural side of the phenomenon may disappear together with our ignorance of its cause.

In the presence of new facts, we must limit ourselves to making exact observations and ‘break the confines of philosophical and scientific systems as if one were to break the chains of intellectual slavery’ (Claude Bernard).

One should be on guard against the fanaticism of sincere people and be ready to confront religious and antireligious prejudices. Catholics must not consider scientific analysis as a sacrilege or an attack. Science has neither country, nor religion.

Alexis Carrel (sent to the editor of the Lyon daily, Le Nouvelliste, 1902)

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