The Miracle Of Healing

Vernon Coleman

For months my left knee had been giving me a lot of trouble. It was painful, stiff and prone to letting me down at unexpected, and invariably inconvenient, moments.

I don't like taking pills unless I really have to and so I wasn't doing anything about it. Except maybe moan occasionally.

`Let me do some healing on it,' suggested my wife, Donna Antoinette, who had long ago discovered that she had healing skills.

And so, twice a day she sat in front of my knee and held her hands around it. The first thing I noticed was the heat. Within moments the whole knee began to feel as hot as if I'd been sitting in direct sunlight for hours. Within minutes it felt extraordinarily warm.

It was almost as though I could feel the healing taking place.

And slowly, over a few weeks, the pain and stiffness in my knee started to disappear.

And then they went.

I did nothing else to help mend myself. No drugs, no physiotherapy, nothing.

Just Donna Antoinette's healing hands.

I'm not the only one she's healed.

A few months ago a friend reported that her doctor had discovered that she had cancer. It had been spotted during a surgical operation for something else.

There was, of course, much sadness and great despair.

Donna Antoinette offered to give some distance healing. She would target the cancer and try to help our friend's body heal itself.

Four months later surgeons said they wanted to operate to see how the cancer was developing.

To their astonishment it had gone. Disappeared. Cured.

They'd given anti-cancer drugs, of course.

But they hadn't expected such a dramatic response.

I bet they hadn't.

I donít think it was the anti-cancer drugs that got rid of the disease.

In my opinion, it was Donna Antoinette's healing hands.


Healing has a remarkably long tradition - reaching far back beyond the origins of Christianity.

Some healers describe themselves as `spiritual' and believe that their healing power comes directly from a god or superior being of some kind. Other healers say that they are merely a channel through which natural healing powers can succeed.

The difference between `healing', `spiritual healing' and `faith healing' causes a considerable amount of confusion among both practitioners and patients. The fact is that there is a considerable amount of overlap between the different types of healing. These, however, are the definitions that are widely accepted:

Faith healing

The patient trusts the healer and allows his will-power and energies to be marshalled in such a way that he can make best use of his body's self-healing capacities. The patient must trust the healer and there is a powerful link between the patient's mind and his body.

Spiritual healing

The patient may or may not know that the healing is taking place. He may or may not be receptive and enthusiastic. The healer transmits energy from himself to the patient in some mysterious way.


One of the famous places where healing takes place is Lourdes, a town in the French Pyrenees which is worth discussing in some detail.

The history of Lourdes as an attraction for pilgrims seeking cures goes back to 1858 when a 14-year-old girl called Bernadette Soubiros claimed that a lady had appeared to her on the cliffs of Massabielle, a spot just outside Lourdes itself. The young girl's report of her conversation with this mysterious lady led the people of the town to believe that the lady she had met had been none other than the Blessed Virgin Mary - the Mother of Jesus Christ.

As a result Lourdes quickly became a favourite place of pilgrimage. Catholics from all over Europe wanted to visit the spot where the Virgin Mary had been seen. Among the pilgrims were a great many sick people hoping to be cured.

At first the local authorities weren't all that keen on the idea. They wanted to play the whole thing down. But local businessmen who were busy catering to the thousands of hungry and thirsty pilgrims were more enthusiastic. Within a short time the local bishop had decided that young Bernadette really had met the Virgin Mary. Lourdes had become an official place of pilgrimage.

In 1883 the Baron de St Maclou, a doctor, took up residence at Lourdes and started examining those people who claimed that they had been cured. He insisted on seeing medical certificates from patients who claimed that they had been healed and he invited all visiting members of the medical profession to take part in his investigations. Neither he nor the Catholic Church were particularly keen to have an epidemic of so-called miracles.

The system that the Baron devised is still followed today, over a century later. Everyone who claims to have been cured by a miracle at Lourdes must go before the Lourdes Medical Bureau which examines each individual very carefully. All the doctors attending Lourdes on any one day (and that can be over one hundred) are allowed to take part in the preliminary questioning of the patient who claims to have been cured by a miracle.

The Medical Bureau uses a set of simple rules (based on rules set up in 1735 by Cardinal Lambertini who later became Pope Benedict 14th) to help decide whether or not a miracle has taken place.

First, the disease that has been cured must be serious, normally incurable, and unlikely to have responded to treatment.

Second, a disease which disappears must not have reached a stage where it could have disappeared by itself.

Third, no medication should have been give to the patient. Or, if medicines were prescribed, then they must have had quite unimportant effects.

Fourth, the cure must be sudden and reached more or less instantaneously.

Finally, the cure must be complete.

If the Bureau decides that there is a possibility of a medically inexplicable cure then they open a dossier on the patient and invite him or her to return to Lourdes the following year.

Meanwhile, the President of the Medical Bureau tries to collect as much information about the pilgrim as he possibly can.

For at least three years the pilgrim must return to Lourdes and be re-examined. Then, and only then, will the case be referred to the International Medical Committee of Lourdes. If they are convinced that the cure has no medical explanation then the Church will be invited to declare the healing a miracle.

Not surprisingly this doesn't happen very often. Over four million pilgrims go to Lourdes every year and about 65,000 are registered as sick. Since 1858 a total of 6,000 people claiming to have been cured miraculously have been examined. Of them only 64 have been recognised as official miracles.

As medical science advances and the Lourdes scrutineers find it more and more possible to explain seemingly inexplicable cures the number of miracles seems to decrease.

Lourdes is, of course, a unique centre for pilgrims looking for a miracle. Patients going there have tremendous faith in the generosity and kindness of their God.


Despite the popularity of places like Lourdes most healers claim that healing isn't necessarily mystical and certainly doesn't need to be associated with any religion or religious group.

The majority of healers claim that whereas the world `faith' implies that healing must always come from some sort of religious power or divine intervention, their experience suggests that there is absolutely no need for an individual to have any faith. On the contrary they claim that healing is a natural phenomenon that all of us can benefit from.

`Healing,' one healer said, `is not a special gift. It is just that the full-time healers practise a lot and get quite good at it.'

Today healing (in all its varied forms) has become a thriving alternative medical speciality. There are tens of thousands of healers around. In Britain, for example, the Confederation of Healing Organizations represents no less than nine separate healing groups and some nine thousand individual healers.


Healers work in a wide variety of different ways. Some healers lay their hands on their patients. Some put their hands just above the patient's body. Some healers claim that they can heal a patient without the patient being present (this is, not surprisingly, known as `distance healing' or `absent healing').

Some healers pray, some mutter incantations and some remain completely silent. Some encourage their patients to visualize an improvement in their bodies. Some healers claim that they act on behalf of special healing forces.

Some healers charge their patients a fee. Some do not.

One thing that most healers agree on is that anyone can become a healer. Mothers can heal their children, orthodox doctors can heal their patients and we can all heal ourselves - some of the time at least.

The advantage of visiting a professional healer is that you benefit from that individual's strength of personality and enthusiasm. The good healer can give even the most cynical and timid patient vigour, energy and strength.

Loving someone, and wanting them to get better, are, it seems, part of the healing force. But there is more to it than that. The effective healer must want to help his patients but he must also be prepared to transfer some of his own healing energies to the minds and bodies of his patients.


Like most other responsible practitioners, healers are keen to obtain real evidence to show that they can help patients get better. And a number of experiments have already been conducted.

One of the earliest pieces of important research work was done by a biochemist called Bernard Grad who worked at McGill University in Montreal in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The subjects of his experiments were mice and plants.

In the first experiment the mice were operated on - each having a small patch of skin removed. The mice were then divided into two groups. The mice in the first group were touched by a healer. The mice in the second group were left to heal by themselves without any treatment at all. The experiment showed that when a healer touched the mice they got better much quicker than when they were left to get better alone. It was even shown that if the healer touched a mouse's bedding it would improve the speed with which he got better.

In the second experiment similarly impressive results were obtained with plants. Barley seeds were made `sick' by putting them into a saline solution. Once again it was shown that the seeds which were touched by a healer made a much speedier recovery than the seeds which were not touched by a healer.

In America, Dolores Krieger, Professor of Nursing at New York University and one of the best known healers in the world, has convinced sceptical doctors by running controlled trials in which it has been shown that blood changes produced by healing can be measured in the laboratory. You can't get evidence much more conclusive than that.

I have for a long time been convinced that healers can produce a positive effect when dealing with patients (I suspect that healing stimulates the production of the body's own self-healing hormones) but I remained sceptical about the ability of healers to produce genuine physical changes until I made a series of programmes for BBC television some years ago.

Just before starting the series I had received a letter from a lady who practises healing and I had invited her to take part in one of the programmes. The healer had written to me claiming to have quite unusual healing powers and I wanted to check her out.

At my request the healer brought with her to the studio a patient who had suffered from bad arthritis and who claimed that her pains had `miraculously' disappeared. My scepticism faded completely when I obtained the patient's X-rays from her hospital consultant and found that there had been an observed radiological improvement in the patient's condition.

Nor was this merely the result of my interpretation of the X-rays. We obtained reports written by an expert radiologist who didn't even know the patient had seen a healer. His reports that there had been a definite and otherwise inexplicable change in the patient's condition in the time when she had been seen by the healer.


There is a simple experiment that can be done by anyone who wants to be convinced of the possible `healing power' of the human hands.

Start by putting your hands close together, with your fingers pointed away from you as though you were praying. Don't quite let your hands touch but get them as close together as you possibly can.

Now, separate your hands by about 2 inches and keep them apart for a few seconds.

Then return your hands to their original position - with the palms as close together as you can get them without touching.

Keep your hands in that position for a few seconds and then separate them by 4 inches. Once again keep them apart for a few seconds.

After returning your hands back to their original position separate them by 6 in. Do this as slowly as you possibly can and remember to stay in each different position for a few seconds at a time.

Finally, separate your hands by 8 or 10 inches and then slowly bring them back together again in rather jerky, 2 inch movements.

You will quite possibly feel a strange sort of `bounciness', as though air were being compressed between your hands. And you'll probably also notice a change in the skin temperature of your hands. It may become a little warmer or simply tingle a little, but with most people the changes make the skin feel slightly cooler.


Healing can be used in just about any physical or mental condition. The help of a professional healer is particularly useful in the treatment of conditions where the patient is weary and exhausted and has insufficient energy to use his own self-healing powers without outside support.

Sudden `miracles' are, naturally, extremely rare. Healing is usually a gradual process. But it is certainly true that a remarkable number of patients do make a recovery after intervention by a healer.

It is perhaps worth mentioning that all the healers I have spoken to insist that healing should be used together with other forms of treatment. Most healers prefer to work alongside orthodox medical practitioners. And, returning the compliment, most orthodox medical practitioners seem happy to work alongside healers.

And, in my case, my healer (Donna Antoinette) worked on an orthodox medical practitioner!

Copyright Vernon Coleman September 2007

Vernon Coleman's books Bodypower, Mindpower and Spiritpower are available from the shop on this website and from all good bookshops and libraries everywhere.