With humility and good humor, Dr. Alessandro de Franciscis—a practicing physician for more than 30 years—refers to himself as a “useless” doctor. Why would that be? Because in 2009, he was appointed by the bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes to be the 15th Médecin Permanent—that is, the president—of the Bureau des Constatations Médicales de Lourdes, or the Lourdes Office of Medical Observations. This office was founded in 1883 to record, study, and judge the hundreds of cures reported by pilgrims who came to Lourdes to wash in the waters of the spring revealed by the Mother of God in her apparitions to St. Bernadette Soubirous. Since then, 7,000 cases of unexplained cures from severe medical conditions have been recorded. A total of 69 of them investigated by the Lourdes Office of Medical Observations have been declared miracles by Church authorities, the latest of which occurred in 2013. And so, Alessandro de Franciscis jokingly refers to himself as a “useless” doctor, as his primary duty is to evaluate patients who are already cured!

In 1858 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the 14-year-old peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous, in the small town of Lourdes, located in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains in France. Between February 11 and July 16 of that year, Our Lady appeared to Bernadette 18 times at the Grotto of Massabielle along the Gave de Pau river. Dressed in white with a blue sash, Our Lady called for penance and prayer (especially the Rosary) to be offered for the conversion of sinners and in reparation to God. Furthermore, she requested the construction of a chapel on the site of her apparitions. She also made a profound self-revelation identifying herself as the “Immaculate Conception,” which served to reinforce this dogmatic teaching on Our Lady’s sinlessness and fullness of grace proclaimed four years earlier by Pope Blessed Pius IX. In the ninth apparition, which occurred on February 25, Our Lady directed Bernadette to uncover a miraculous spring, telling her to drink and wash from its waters. Bernadette was observed by the crowds stooping over the muddied ground within the grotto and then scraping at it until a little water appeared. She drank from it, muddying her face to the point that she appeared to have gone mad. Bernadette was led away and most in the crowd concluded the spectacle had gone too far. Yet, that afternoon people returning to the grotto discovered that a spring had emerged from the hole Bernadette had dug. Out of devotion, they filled bottles with the water and took them home. This spring would eventually produce clear, flowing water which flows to this day and has resulted in thousands of miracles of healing since it was uncovered.

Read more at Catholic World Report.