THE beginning of the Reformation marked the decline of the veneration of relics and the miracles attributed to them, even among devout Romanists themselves. But now that the Reformation is disappearing from the minds and hearts of men, it logically follows that “shrines,” “relics,” and “miracles” should increase. And they are increasing. New York City has a shrine in which it is seriously asserted that there is to be seen a fragment of St. Anne procured of Pope Leo XIII. The press frequently announces the cure of some “incurable” case. Some imagine that these professed cures are confined to the obscure and ignorant, but this is not entirely true. The following clipping which is going the rounds of the press, announces the cure of a veteran policeman of this city at a shrine located at Auriesville, Montgomery Co., New York, under the control of the Jesuits. No one can fail to discover the patent medicine advertisement enterprise that inspired the publication of this article, and that it is published at this time with a view to drumming up next summer’s trade; but it is nevertheless serious because it is seriously put forth by that “infallible” church which is just now so deeply interested in the conversion of Americans and America to the “true church” and to a belief in the efficacy of “holy water” and pulverized stone as a cure for human ills:—
“I have been cured by his divine intervention, where all the doctors had failed to relieve me,” said Policeman Michael Griffin yesterday. Griffin wears five blue stripes on the sleeves of his uniform, showing that he has served more than a quarter of a century on the Metropolitan police force. He has been attached for several years to the Ordnance Department. After his health had been shattered by disease and exposure, he was transferred from active patrol duty to the comparative quiet of the courts.
The policeman had never been well since he first joined the force. He had malaria in his spine that at times caused him most horrible suffering. He had consulted many physicians, but none of them had been able to effect a cure, and as the time passed his infirmities increased and it became more and more difficult for him to attend to his cuties.
Many of the members of St. Francis Xavier’s Church planned a pilgrimage to Auriesville, Montgomery County, last August, and Griffin arranged to take his vacation at the time, so as to join the other pilgrims at the shrine of the Mother of Martyrs, to worship with the on Lord’s Day and to remain for a week.
Auriesville is in a charming section of the Mohawk Valley, about one hundred and seventy-five miles from this city. Twelve acres of land—a hill over-looking the railroad station, and with the shrine on its summit—belong to the Jesuit fathers. Some improvements have already been made and many others are in contemplation, including a beautiful chapel on the hilltop and rows of trees in place of corn fields.
The shrine marks the spot where Father Isaac Jogues, a missionary priest, was slain by Indians more than two hundred years ago. His associate, Rene Goupil, a scholastic, was murdered at the same time near by, and tradition has it that his remains were covered by a huge bowlder. In any event, the body was never found, but pilgrims have long assumed that a rock weighing three or four tons in a ravine not more than five minutes’ walk from the hill, had been rolled over him. A little stream passes through the ravine when the winter snows thaw, but dries during the warm weather.
The rock is probably three feet high and rounded on the sides; the flat surface looks as though it had been the base, but had been overturned by some giant forced.
Father Joigues’ piety and good deeds gained him wide fame, and one of the Indian maidens whom he converted, and who subsequently suffered martyrdom, is, it is said, to be canonized. Pilgrims have been going to the shrine for several years, but never were there as many as last summer. Griffin estimates that on August 15 there were one thousand from Amsterdam, N.Y., eight hundred from Albany and Troy, and probably one thousand others from different points in this State and Pennsylvania. There were impressive ceremonies, including a procession of pilgrims up the Hill of Prayer to the shrine, and teaching sermons, glorifying the martyrs.
After the service the pilgrims scattered, and many of them broke off pieces of the rock under which Rene Goupil’s body was said to have been crushed.
Griffin kept part of the stone he had brought to the city. He recently heard that one of the pilgrims who had been a cripple had been wholly cured, and he determined to test the efficacy of the stone in his own case.
He crushed a portion of it in holy water from St. Ignatius’ about a month ago and applied it that night to the open wound, praying to God to help him in his affliction.
The sore miraculously disappeared and Griffin became more robust than he had been for many years.
His aches and pains were gone, and he recovered the light step and heart of his youth.
He determined to test the efficacy of the stone on another sufferer. His landlady, Mrs. McDonald, was afflicted with many of the ills brought by old age. She had become blind, and pains racked her limbs. Her worst trouble consisted of cramps or spasms in her legs at night, that made sleep impossible.
She had found temporary relief by applications of hot bricks, and her daughters were compelled to get up frequently to prepare them for her comfort.
Griffin told Mrs. McDonald what the relic had done for him, gave her some of the powdered stone in holy water, and when the pain attacked her, her daughters rubbed her legs with the marvel-workig preparation.
She was immediately quieted and fell into a peaceful slumber, and since then she has had no cause to complain of any ache.
“She is very, very old,” said Griffin. “I should say she is from seventy-five to eighty years old, and has long been entirely confined to her house, but she now hopes to soon be able to go to St. Francis Xavier’s Church, that she used to attend regularly.
“She next rubbed the stone and holy water on her sightless eyes, and when she sat down at the table with her daughters she cried, ‘Glory be to God, I can see my cup!’
“When she was helped upstairs she was able to see the banister on which she had to bear for support. I went to the house last night, and Mrs. McDonald held out her hand to me. I was not standing directly opposite her, but just a little to one side, and I asked her if she could see my hand. She could, and she demonstrated the fact by grasping it in her own.”
Griffin says God in his ineffable way has positively revealed to his faithful ones that the rock marks the place where Rene Goupil, the scholastic, became a martyr. Other miracles, he reports, have been accomplished through the agency of the stone, and are known to the fathers of the church.
There will be another pilgrimage to the beautiful Mohawk Valley next summer, and it will be far larger than the last one.
“If God spares me, in his mercy, till then,” says Griffin, “I shall go to Auriesville for my vacation. Last year’s pilgrims assemble at a special mass at half-past six on the morning of the 15th of each month, when there are many prayers uttered to the everlasting glory of the Mother of Martyrs.”
Now all this did not come in France, Spain, South America, or the province of Quebec, but it is claimed that it occurred in the Empire State and in the American metropolis.
There are several questions which are suggested by this account. What will be done when the pilgrims have chipped away all this stone? If it is so efficacious it will not last long. And suppose after the stone has disappeared they do not find Rene Goupil’s body? Would it not be safer to take a pick and dig under the stone and thus ascertain for certain whether the body is there, rather than to trust to “miracles” to sustain the supposition?
One of two things is true; either these people are the victims of a designing priesthood which is making merchandise of the bodies and souls of men, or if the priests believe that miracles are actually wrought, and these cures are real, then the deception is still deeper and they are all the victims of the devil who, according to Scripture, was to work with “all power and signs and lying wonders” before the second coming of Christ. It cannot be that miracles are wrought in the name of Rene Goupil, for “there is none other name under heaven give among men, whereby we must be saved” except the name of “Jesus Christ of Nazareth.”