The Boston Area hosted Frà Alessandro de Franciscis, MD, ScM., who presented “Cures and Miracles in Lourdes” on Sunday, February 24, at St. Paul Parish in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Frà Alessandro is President of the Lourdes Office of Medical Observations and President of the Lourdes International Medical Association. His office examines the cases of alleged cures. He spoke about his experiences with healing, miracles and whole-person care.
Frà Alessandro entered the Order of Malta in 2012 as a Knight of Honor and Devotion. The following year he pursued his vocation to religious life that led him to make his solemn vows. He became a professed member of the Order in 2017 as a Knight of Justice.
“We were honored to welcome Frà Alessandro as well as our confrères from the extended Boston Area and other nearby states,” said Craig Gibson, who serves as Co-Chair with his wife, Nancy, for the Boston Area Order of Malta. “His presentation was inspirational, and this was a great opportunity to spend time with our fellow members and many notable guests.”
Guests included Order of Malta members from the Boston Area, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Timothy McGuirk, an active member of the Auxiliary for many years, drove up from New York. “Dr. de Franciscis’ thought-provoking presentation challenged us to consider the cures of Lourdes, not only as a visible sign of God’s love among us, but also as a beautiful intersection of medical science and religion,” he said.
A number of medical professionals who had either made the Lourdes Pilgrimage or were planning to do so attended. Donna Coletti, MD, is a member of the American Association’s Lourdes Medical Team and the Founding Medical Director for Palliative Care Services at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Connecticut. “What stood out for me,” she said, “was when a priest in the audience noted that, despite there being only 70 documented cures since 1858, anyone who has ever been to Lourdes knows that they leave with a part of themselves having been forever changed, their own private miracle.”
Maureen Bleday, from the Boston Area, is currently in her Year of Formation. She attended with her husband, Ron. He is a colorectal surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and they both will be making the Lourdes Pilgrimage this May. “Ron and I thoroughly enjoyed Fra Allesandro’s presentation,” Maureen said. “It reminded us that, despite the ability of modern medicine to treat and, in many cases, cure so many diseases, some cures remain a true mystery.”
Anthony Hamaty appeared deeply moved by the talk. A former physician, he told the story of how, after visiting Lourdes, he felt called to a delayed vocation and is now a seminarian at The Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Weston. He said Fra Alessandro provided an enlightening and inspiring look inside Lourdes and miracles. “I particularly enjoyed seeing the scientific changes that accompanied the miracles,” Anthony said.
Msgr. James P. Moroney, Deputy Chaplain of the Order of Malta and Interim Rector of Cathedral of St. Paul in Worcester, said of the presentation: “I was impressed by the rigorous medical criteria which Fra Alessandro applies every day to the cures reported to the Medical Bureau and the declarations of miracles which have resulted from them.”
After the presentation and before the attendees gathered for a reception, Msgr. Moroney offered the following closing prayer:
“Heavenly Father, source of all healing and life, we give you thanks for good doctors: For Dr. Jackson, whose witness to life will ever live in our hearts; and for Fra Dr. de Franciscis, witness of the signs which lead us to the Mother of your Son. Bless their work as you bless all who approach the Grotto of the Apparition with healing of body and soul. Heal us of our selfishness and sin and make us disciples of the life and healing which we receive at the hands o f Jesus your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”