The 10 Most Controversial Miracles
The 10 Most Controversial Miracles
Acts of God
But as science has marched forward, many seeming miracles wind up having scientific explanations. Still others are shown to be elaborate hoaxes.
Even so, belief in miracles continues. And despite scientific progress, there are still many miraculous phenomena that haven’t been explained.
From liquefying blood to bleeding statues, here are some of the most famous and controversial miracles in history.
Credit: nullIn 1981 in the small town of Medjugorje in what is now Bosnia-Herzegovina, six children reported seeing apparitions of the Virgin Mary. For years they claimed to receive daily messages and so far have allegedly received thousands of prophecies.
“One is a prediction that there are 10 secrets that will reveal the end of the world,” said Michael O’Neill, who runs the websiteMiracleHunter.com.
Though the Vatican has never officially weighed in, the site has attracted millions of pilgrims over the years. In 2010, the Vatican agreed to investigate this event and should have its findings out in the next few months, O’Neill said. [Doomsday: 9 Real Ways Earth Could End]
Credit: Chad Zuber | ShutterstockIn 1531 in the fields near Mexico City, a peasant named Juan Diego claimed to see an apparition of the Virgin Mary, who asked that a church be built in her honor. The Virgin also asked the man to gather flowers on a hillside, which he did and placed in his cloak. Afterwards, the cloak appeared to hold the imprint of the Virgin Mary. Though there have been a few scientific analyses of the so-called Our Lady of Guadalupe miracle over the years, no one has come to a definitive conclusion as to whether or how the image was painted, and if so, how it has been preserved so well.
Credit: Public DomainLegend has it that a Cathedral in Naples holds a vial of blood from an early Christian martyr, St. Januarius. Reportedly, the blood is dry most of the year, but mysteriously liquefies three times throughout the year, on days commemorating his life and impact.
Credit: Public DomainIn the 1600s, the saint and mystic St. Joseph of Cupertino entered into a religious trance and reportedly began hovering over the crowds. He apparently experienced this levitation multiple times — one time in front of Pope Urban VIII. As a result of his flying exploits, this mystic is the patron saint of pilots. In more recent history, other instances of levitation have been revealed as visual illusions, hoaxes or hallucinations.
Credit: Stephanie Pappas, LiveScienceSeveral people throughout history have claimed to have stigmata, injuries similar to those Jesus Christ received during the crucifixion. One man, St. Pio of Pietrelcina reportedly had bleeding on his palms. However, skeptics say such miracle claims can be frauds or self-inflicted wounds.
Credit: danielo | ShutterstockIn 1973, a statue in a little church in Akita, Japan, allegedly began to bleed soon after Sister Agnes Sasagawa at the church had an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The statue continued to cry, sweat and bleed for several years and was even captured on national television. The Sister Agnes, who was deaf prior to the apparition, also regained her hearing about a decade later.
Credit: Public DomainIn 1968, people in the Zeitoun district of Cairo, Egypt, reported seeing anapparition of an illuminated woman walking on the roof of a Coptic church. Many considered this to be an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The event was reportedly seen by many onlookers and even captured in photographs. So far, no one has found evidence that those photos were manipulated. The head of the Coptic Church in Alexandria declared this a legitimate miracle.
Credit: | ShutterstockDozens of saints reportedly do not decay after death, instead exuding a sweet and floral odor, which is considered a mark of sanctity. One example is St. Bernadette Soubirous, who died in 1879. In 1909, a bishop exhumed her and found that she had not decayed. She is now displayed, covered in wax imprints, in the Chapel of St. Bernadette in France.
Shroud of Turin
Though not strictly a miracle, the Shroud of Turin is one of the most famous relics in history. The shroud is allegedly the burial shroud of Jesus and contains an imprint of his face. Subsequent research has revealed that at least parts of the relic date to Medieval times, suggesting it was an elaborate hoax. However, follow-up research found the shroud could be much older — dating to between 280 B.C. to A.D. 220 — well within Jesus’s lifespan. [Religious Mysteries: 8 Alleged Relics of Jesus]