The lourdes medical cures revisited

Bernard François, Esther M. Sternberg, Elizabeth Fee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This article examines the cures recorded in Lourdes, France, between 1858, the year of the Visions, and 1976, the date of the last certified cure of the twentieth century. Initially, the records of cures were crude or nonexistent, and allegations of cures were accepted without question. A Medical Bureau was established in 1883 to examine and certify the cures, and the medical methodology improved steadily in the subsequent years. We discuss the clinical criteria of the cures and the reliability of medical records. Some 1,200 cures were said to have been observed between 1858 and 1889, and about one hundred more each year during the "Golden Age" of Lourdes, 1890-1914. We studied 411 patients cured in 1909-14 and thoroughly reviewed the twenty-five cures acknowledged between 1947 and 1976. No cure has been certified from 1976 through 2006. The Lourdes phenomenon, extraordinary in many respects, still awaits scientific explanation. Lourdes concerns science as well as religion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-162
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of the history of medicine and allied sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Lourdes
  • cures
  • healing
  • prayer
  • psycho-neuroimmunology
  • religion
  • tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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