Lourdes : Cure of Catharine Lapeyre

Translated from 'Medical Proof of the Miraculous', by E. Le Bac [former President of the Bureau des Constatations at Lourdes]


Evidence can be seen in the Medical Bureau at Lourdes of a typical case of cancer of the tongue which had recurred, and which had been suddenly cured, not at Lourdes, but at Toulouse.

CATHARINE LAPEYRE entered the hospital of Toulouse in January 1889, and was operated upon the following March; it was at this time that the accompanying photograph was taken. There can be seen on the right side of the tongue the growing cancer with the characteristic ulcerating portions.

At the end of three months the cancer recurred at the same site, the glands became enlarged, and there was much pain in the ear. Soon the patient showed signs that the blood was becoming infected by the cancerous toxins, and her complexion assumed the tint of wax. The patient refused a second operation.

As she could not be admitted into the train starting for Lourdes, she resolved to make a novena and bathed her mouth with Lourdes water. On the ninth day the growth and the enlarged glands suddenly disappeared without any other treatment. Eight years after nothing could be seen but a whitish scar on the side of the tongue, about a quarter of which organ had been removed.

At the Medical Bureau can also be seen a photograph taken after the cure, which was a lasting one, and this was certified to for the space of sixteen years. It is necessary to emphasize this cure. Cancer of the tongue is most painful, and most grave on account of the rapidity of its course. In fact, there exists a medical axiom which says, "All recurrent and ulcerated cancer of the tongue dies within the year." The diagnosis of this terrible complaint is quite simple when it is as advanced as it was in this case. No one can pretend that the surgeon at Toulouse was deceived and that he had operated on a benign tumour, since recurrence took place at the end of three months, as is usual with cancer of the tongue. The growth had also involved the glands of the neck, and there were already signs of generalization, as evidenced by the cachexia and the waxy pallor of the patient.

This tumour could not have been a specific tumour, for it gave no sign of this; there were no fissures. Moreover, when by mistake a gumma is removed, we do not see cicatrization take place and persist for three months after the removal, but the tumour recurs immediately, without any interval of deceptive amelioration. In our case there was the appearance of a cure for the space of three months.

It was suggested to the patient that she should again enter the hospital and be operated upon a second time, but this she refused. There is absolute proof of the existence of the growth only a short time before the sudden cure. This cancer was most certainly in full process of recurrence nine days before the supernatural cure. There is no necessity to repeat what I said about the time factor in the case of the cure of Rene Clement. We cannot compare this cure with the natural cure of cancer, because the natural cure of cancer has never been seen; consequently we lack the necessary means of comparison. Finally, we know that cancer of the tongue, especially when it is so far advanced as to need the ablation of a quarter of this organ, always recurs.. Here the permanence of the cure was testified to at the end of sixteen years. The cure, then, is certain, and at the same time one unheard-of naturally.

Special attention is directed to the condition of fungating ulceration of this cancer. In the discussion on the physiological aspect of the miraculous, I said that we never saw a fungating cancerous mass of epidermal cells converted into healthy cells in their totality. Very rarely a certain amount of scarring has been observed in the case of cancer of the skin, but this has never been seen in fungating cancers of mucous surfaces, as in the case of cancer of the tongue. Some Power must, then, have intervened to take from the fungating cancerous cells their destructive properties and convert them into cells capable of forming a solid cicatrix.

What is most extraordinary for the surgeon is the sudden disappearance of the enlarged glands and of the cachexia. The swelling of the glands proved that the evil had invaded the deeper parts of the neck. The waxy tint of the complexion gave proof that the blood was gravely infected.

When speaking of the physiology of the miraculous, I pointed out that the cancerous cells secreted poisons called toxins. In this case these toxins had already been absorbed in considerable quantities, and had gravely infected the blood. The marvellous force which destroyed the cancer cells had also extended its power over the toxins, had destroyed these instantly, and repaired all the damage which these poisons had caused in the blood.

Here, then, is one of these mysterious occurrences which we cannot explain, but which compels us to acknowledge that we are in the presence of a supernatural force.

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