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From the Files of the RJ's Surrealist Research Bureau

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From the Files of the RJ's Surrealist Research Bureau

My weirdest tale - St. Medard

I’m often asked, in over 30 years of researching such topics as Bigfoot, UFO’s and Ogopogo, which is the strangest case I’ve come across. For sheer “otherness” and the unknown, I’d have to say the bizarre incidents that occurred in the Parisian churchyard of St. Medard between 1727 and 1732. These happenings were so bizarre and so outrageous modern readers might be forgiven for thinking them sheer fantasy or inventions if not for the realms of impressive documents to back them up, including dozens of affidavits by the doctors, judges, and scientists who investigated and witnessed them.

They began in May of 1727 with the burial of Francois de Paris, the Deacon of Paris. Only 37 years old at the time of his demise, he’d been widely admired with a reputation as a healer who taught that men could be saved only through the grace of God and not by their own efforts. Great numbers of mourners followed his coffin and as his body was laid in his tomb a crippled child held aloft by his father went into apparent convulsions and was hurriedly removed to a quiet corner of the churchyard and laid out on the ground. The child, crippled since birth with a deformed leg, jumped up smiling and dancing, his once-withered limb growing new muscles and stretching as the bystanders watched. The leg soon became as strong as the other.

That appeared to open the floodgates. As the news spread like wildfire within days lepers, hunchbacks, cripples and the blind were flocking to the courtyard and deformed legs and arms became straight again, cancers disappeared and sores and wounds healed instantaneously. Scientists and investigators witnessed ever more incredible occurrences over the months. One, the great philosopher David Hume was to write in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, “There was surely never a greater number of miracles in one locale, but what’s more extraordinary is that many of the miracle cures were immediately proven on the spot by judges of unquestioned integrity, attested by witnesses of credit and distinction.”

One such witness, a lawyer named Louis de Page, told his friend the Judge Louis Montegron what he’d seen but the magistrate scoffed at him, sure he’d been tricked by carnival conjurers and charlatans. But he agreed to accompany him to the churchyard next day and see for himself. On this day (7 September 1731) the miracles had a decidedly more gruesome tone. First, the magistrate reported a number of women writhing on the ground, their bodies contorting into impossible shapes, sometimes bending backwards until their heads touched their heels, all the while speaking in tongues. While the women writhed on the ground other men standing by apparently became possessed and began beating the women with heavy pieces of iron and wooden clubs. One woman, naked to the waist, had her nipples grabbed by a pair of iron tongs, twisting them violently. None of these women felt pain, many begging for more force to be used and many of them were later cured of whatever ailments or deformities they’d arrived with after this bizarre treatment.

In another part of the churchyard other women were found busy cleansing grotesque boils and open sores of the afflicted by sucking and licking them clean, amazingly curing the wounds complete. Another woman knelt before a blazing open fire and plunged her head into it yet her eyebrows and hair were not even singed. She picked up a chunks of blazing red-hot coal and proceeded to eat them, smiling. The Judge had seen enough for one day and left but he later returned and investigated further, eventually writing and compiling three volumes of case histories and cures which he later presented to King Louis XV. (I’ve left out some of the more fantastic, grotesque and shocking incidents that occurred there but simply Google variations on St. Medard or French convulsionaries and a few websites should pop up. A lot of the incidents are frankly too crude and vulgar for the gentle readers of TRJ). The Catholic church still investigates and ponders on the meaning, if any, of the occurrences today and there’s some fascinating case histories on their online files and reports.

The Parisian civil authorities eventually decided in 1732 that the situation was getting out of hand and becoming a cause d’celebre’ so they ordered the church closed down and the courtyard, trees and graves razed to the ground. In the words of Colin Wilson, “It would be foolish to stop looking for scientific explanations of the miracles of St. Medard, but in the meantime let us not deceive ourselves by accepting superficial “skeptical” explanations.

“Beauty will be convulsive or it will not be at all!”—Andre Breton

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Jody Forest Jody Forest When he's not hidden behind the palatial gates of his Dover estate, Casa de Bozo, Jody is out using outdated and corny pickup lines on various gullible women.

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