[Emile Zola was the self-proclaimed father of French naturalism (in literature). During the research for his novel, Lourdes, 1894, he visited the famous shrine. While there he had a chance to meet Marie Lebranchu (Miracle #16, 1892), both before her cure—she had tuberculosis in a very advanced stage, and Zola saw her coughing up blood on the train going to Lourdes—and after, at the Medical Bureau of Verifications. In his novel he altered the facts. Having depicted Marie Lebranchu as a hopelessly ill person, using the name of La Grivotte, he attributes her improvement to nervous excitement, and makes her collapse and die on the way home! (She lived in perfect health until 1920.) Zola knew perfectly well that Marie Lebranchu had been healed, and when a doctor afterwards asked him why he had made the story conclude in a way that was opposed to actual facts, he replied in a tone of annoyance: “I suppose I am master of the persons in my own books, and can let them live or die as I choose? And besides,” he added, “I don’t believe in miracles. Even if all the sick in Lourdes were cured in one moment, I would not believe in them!” However, after witnessing several healings during his stay in Lourdes, he wasn’t inclined to dismiss the evidence for alleged miracles as fraudulent.]
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