Marian Times

Focus on the Medjugorje apparitions and the Catholic Church in the Bosnia Herzegovina region. Other Catholic items of general interest.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Medjugorje - Arguments of Bishop Zanic (Part I)

Excerpts from soon to be published book. Copyright © Paul Baylis, marian-times.com. Comments are welcome, but unauthorised use of any material here is strictly forbidden and legal action will be taken if ignored. Please email mariantimes01@yahoo.com with any comments or requests to use this text.







Bishop Zanic’s Objections (with the author’s comments after “Editor’s Note”)




Propaganda in favor of Medjugorje is being rushed in order to place before the Church and the world a "fait accompli." This has been the intention of the defenders of Medjugorje from the beginning.
Editor's Note: Bishop Zanic is forgetting that he was the key defender, who wanted to push it through as a fait accompli right at the very beginning. He even encouraged Father Jozo to come to a quicker decision and to see the work of God’s hands!




A characteristic attitude: Marina D., a tourist guide for Atlas travel, brought a priest from Panama to my office in August 1989. His name: Presbitero Rodriguez Teofilo, pastor of Nuestra Senora de Lourdes. With him came Carmen Cecilia Capriles - a journalist, Director General of the IATA agency, Avenida Alberto Navarro, Apartado 1344 Zona 7, Panama.
Marina presented herself as a tour-guide translator for English and a convert because of Medjugorje.The priest asked me for the reasons why I do not believe in the "apparitions." I told him that I have at least 20 reasons not to believe, of which only one is necessary for those who are sober and well instructed in the faith to come to the conclusion that the apparitions are not of supernatural origin. He asked me to please tell him at least one reason. I told him about the case of the ex-Franciscan priest Ivica Vego. Due to his disobedience, by an order of the Holy Father the pope, he was thrown out of the Franciscan religious
order by his General, dispensed from his vows and suspended "a divinis." He did not obey this order, and he continued to celebrate Mass, distribute the sacraments and pass the time with his mistress. It is unpleasant to write about this, yet it is necessary in order to see who is speaking for Our Lady.
According to the diary of Vicka and the statements of the "seers", Our Lady claimed 13 times that Vego was innocent and that the bishop was wrong. When his mistress, Sister Leopolda, a nun, became pregnant, both of them left Medjugorje and the religious life and began to live together near Medjugorje where their child was born. Now they have two children. His prayerbook is still sold at Medjugorje and elsewhere in hundreds of thousands of copies.

Editors Note: Time has passed since this statement by Bishop Zanic. There are several separate issues that Zanic has rolled into one to create an overall picture that suits his purpose. Frstly, Vego and Prusina were accused of administering sacraments to the faithful who refused to receive them from the secular clergy, which had bulldozed its way into the parishes handed over by the Franciscans. In fact the Apostolic See in Rome on 27 March 1993 stated that Franciscans had not committed any violation but that Bishop Zanic had been acting in contradiction with canonical law. This was in accordance with Our Lady’s statements against the Bishop and she herself predicted that the truth would be made known in time and that the accused Franciscans were to remain strong and patient. Secondly: The illicit affair with the nun is true, but was a completely personal and separate issue between himself and God. The real issue here is that Bishop Zanic did not like being told that he was in the wrong.



Fifty miraculous healings have been mentioned, then 150, 200, 300, and so on. Laurentin chose 56 dossiers and sent them to the "Bureau medical de Lourdes." Dr. Mangiapan responded in their Bulletin, April '84, that these dossiers have no practical value, and they cannot be used or considered as serious proofs of the apparitions in Medjugorje. Much has been written about the healing of Diane Basile. I sent the dossier to Dr. Mangiapan who studied the case and then took the position "opinion plus que reservée." It is a case of multiple sclerosis. More will be written about this later in a book.
Editors Note:

This type of objection is very typical of what I hear from atheists, whose required level of proof is nearly impossible to obtain because, in the end, it will still always be an individual doctor’s opinion or research team’s opinion. It's funny; they will accept non-religious things with a lot less evidence than the scientific evidence at Medjugorje shows.

There are simply countless testimonies of miraculous healings that all reason suggests are genuine, yet the documentation surrounding them often is not up to the highest standards required for miracle confirmation. The individuals are so happy to be healed and documenting their healing never seems important.

Nevertheless, there are some cases that come pretty close to providing the type of evidence required. Below are brief discussions of two of the major provable examples, among many thousands at Medjugorje (quoted directly from http://www.medjugorje.ws/en/apparitions/docs-medjugorje-miracles/)

Diane Basile

Mrs. Diana Basile, born October 5, 1940 in Platizza, Cosenza, Italy, suffered from multiple sclerosis, an otherwise incurable disease, from 1972 till May 23, 1984. In spite of the expert help of the professors and doctors at the clinic in Milan, she grew more and more sick. By her own desire she came to Medjugorje and was present during the apparition of Our Lady in a room connected to the Church and was suddenly healed. All of that happened in such a quick and thorough way that on the following day the same woman walked barefoot 12 kilometres from the hotel in Ljubuski, where she spent the night, to the apparition hill in order to thank Our Lady for the healing. Ever since then until today, she has remained well.

Upon her return to Milan, the doctors were astonished by her healing and immediately established a medical commission, which was again thoroughly to examine both the previous and present condition of the healed woman. They collected 143 documents and, in the end, 25 professors, head doctors, and other doctors wrote a special book about the disease and the healing in which they stated that Diana Basile indeed did suffer from multiple sclerosis, that for many years she was unsuccessfully treated, but that now she is completely well and that this did not happen by any kind of therapy, nor by any kind of medicine. They, thereby, indicated that the cause of the healing was from a different than scientific source.

Rita Klaus

Another more significant miracle happened to Rita Klaus of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA, a teacher and mother of three children, born January 25, 1940, who for 26 years suffered from multiple sclerosis. She was also one that neither doctors nor medicine were able to help. Reading the book about Medjugorje, Is the Blessed Virgin Appearing in Medjugorje? by Laurentin-Rupcic, she decided to accept Our Lady's messages. And once while she was praying the rosary on May 23, 1984, she felt within herself some unusual warmth. After that, she felt well. And from then till today the patient is completely well and capable of doing all her domestic and school work. There is a solid medical documentation about her sickness and her futile therapy and likewise a professional certification of the doctors on her extraordinary and incomprehensible healing, which is complete and permanent.


Comedian Healed at Medjugorje - Converts to Catholicism

Written by Michael H. Brown.
Reported in Spirit Daily.com online newspaper. When life seems to be closing in on us, in a world that so often seems upside-down, there is one way to exit, and that's through humor. A sure cure for our ills is found in laughter! Usually, we should be laughing at ourselves. And one thing that should make us smile is how silly it is to worry when we have God. In the Light of His eternity and angels and watchfulness, there is nothing to fear but lack of prayer. We can even pray for a good sense of humor!

Many of you have heard the experts talk about how laughter can help us recover from serious illnesses. That's because humor is a spiritual release and when we release something on that level, it goes to both our emotions and bodies.

A great example of this -- of both healing and laughter -- is Char Vance, the television producer and comedian from New Orleans who is often out there speaking at conferences and causing people to roll in the aisles. Char had been in the radio business when she suffered a horrendous accident. It was on Halloween night at a farm she owned back in the 1980s. She and a group were riding on a tractor-pulled wagon when suddenly they caught sight of the barn on fire. Char jumped off in hopes of running to the blaze but got caught underneath, injured so badly it looked like part of her leg would have to be amputated. The ankle was severely damaged.

Just crushed. No bone support at all. It looked like a lifelong handicap. At the time, Char Vance was not a Catholic, but a friend got her to go to the apparition site of Medjugorje -- much besmirched these days by the devil. And for good reason: this is a place of enormous conversion. Ask Char. Her recounting of her trip and her conversion to the Catholic faith -- more importantly, to faith in Jesus -- is a hilarious excursion into deep spirituality. Finally, it has been captured on videotape.

At Medjugorje, where Char hobbled in a huge, lumbering cast, the Louisiana woman climbed the holy highland of Mount Krizevac despite those who thought it was crazy and despite her own skepticism. "I wondered why [after Apparition Hill], they wanted us to go up the mountain," she jokes. "I said, why do you have us climbing two hills, two mountains in one day? It's not like we're going to run out of fun things to do here!" Here she was in a place with no TV and no hotels and no pools, drinking beer while everyone else was praying the Rosary in a way she saw as strange and obsessive. But Char went up the "hill." As she walked a dirt road on the outskirts of the village, something had said to her, "You know, it will be just your luck if something big happens up there and you're gonna miss it." That's what had finally convinced her to go up. She and her companions caught a cab. When they got to the mountain, many others were doing the same.

"I didn't know a lot of prayers," says Char, who was not a Catholic at the time. "I knew 'Now I lay me down to sleep' and the Lord's Prayer, but that's the most wonderful thing you Catholics have: you have prayers for everything," she jokes. "You know, you got department heads. You lost something, you got St. Anthony. You got bad eyes you got St. Lucy..." Heading up the mountain and praying at the Fourth Station of the Cross, Char propped up her cast on a boulder and here comes a monk -- a very unusual monk. "He had on this white robe and the hood up and he's carrying a tripod with nothing on it, no camera. And he's looking directly at me," says Char. "And coming to me. And he says, 'You know, when I was in Germany, I had the good fortune of meeting Theresa Neumann.' To me it was like saying, 'I met John Jones.' He said, 'You know who that is, don't you?' I said, 'No.' And he said, 'Well, she was a stigmatist.'" Got me again, said Char. "Don't you know what a stigmatist is?" the man asked.
Uh uh, replied Char.

He explained what a stigmatic was (someone who had received the wounds of Christ) and pulling out a rosary told her that he had put it on her stigmatic wounds and that it had since healed people of many problems, including cancer. "Here I am with this big cast on the rock, and he says, 'I would like your permission to put this on your head!'"It's hard to convey how Char tells this story. Her inflections, her timing, her side comments are hilarious. The tape shows an audience in constant stitches. But she was telling a serious story. "When something like this happens, you think 'somebody has tapped into your thoughts' -- and you better start thinking some holy pious thoughts QUICK!"

The mysterious stranger told Char to say seven Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes, and when she got to the top, the Creed. "When he left he would talk to others," she recounts. "If they were French he would begin talking in French. If you were Spanish he would start speaking Spanish. It was like he knew what you were before he got there."At the seventh Station, the comedian noticed the "monk" was kind of winded. Char offered him a canteen of water. "He smiled a smile that went all the way through me," she says.

Medjugorje is famous for the reports of mysterious strangers -- including monks or nuns in white. When Char got to the top, the seers were ready to have an apparition. Char didn't want to see anything -- afraid there would be hysteria and she would fall off the mountain! They were at the large cross there. "All of a sudden it's gets quiet, quiet, quiet. All of a sudden, that cross lit up, and it lit up, best I can describe it, like those old strobe lights, quick, and I see Jesus on the cross. I saw him like I have never seen a person before or since. He looked horrible -- horrible -- his nose was laying over, and He had this enormous crown, not this little crown like you see. This thing was like a big bird's nest. That quickly it lit up again and I saw it again."
Vance wasn't alone. Others in her group were astonished to witness the same thing. The mountain is known for a wide array of phenomena -- although this particular type we had not previously encountered. It is the cross where the Blessed Mother says she prays each day.

A woman next to Char said, "Did you just see Christ on that cross?" Char felt "totally zapped." She now knew without a doubt that God and the Blessed Mother existed. When she got back, she had to go to the doctor for x-rays. She went in the waiting room "and all of a sudden the technician comes out with all these x-rays and he says [in a loud voice], 'Charlene Vance, you've been healed, you've been healed!'" "You should have seen the people in there with their People magazines!" she jokes.

But it was true: the nurse ran in too, and then the doctor arrived -- gracing them with his "presence." "When's the last time you saw a doctor come into the waiting room!" she recalls with a roll of her eyes. "The nurse said, 'Did you hear about?'" The doctor said he had to take a look at it. It looked like there was bone growth! He asked Char to slowly try to see if she could move her toes. She could do more than that. She could rotate her whole ankle! She was with her mother. "I started dancing around and saying, 'Ma, ma, I can walk, praise God I can walk!' He runs out and brings out another doctor and they look at the x-rays and my mother says, 'Doctor, doctor, what is it,' and he says -- direct quote -- 'There's absolutely no correlation in her x-rays before she went and when she got back. There's total bone growth everywhere.'"


SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION

The reported Marian apparitions at Medjugorje seem tailor made for scientific investigation. The virgin has reportedly been appearing every single day for over 25 years, and scientists are invited! The regularity of the apparitions has made for consistent and reliable findings, allowing solid conclusions to be drawn and thorough documentation to be prepared. There is no room for retrospective cynicism. The visions are still going on, so any scientists unsatisfied after reading the current reports can take their shot now or forsake their right to skepticism later.

SUMMARY OF SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATIONS

Professor Henri Joyeux headed a team from the University of Montpellier, France and Dr. Frigerio and colleagues from Italy conducted further investigations.

The findings were (quoted directly from Medjugorje.org):

1) Five alleged visionaries tested were found to simultaneously look at precisely the same spot (even though no reference point was visible) within one-fifth of a second of each other when the Blessed Virgin Mary allegedly appears. Such synchronization can only be explained by some external "object" holding their gaze -- but one which those around them could not see.

2) During the same one-fifth of a second, there are simultaneous kneeling and the cessation of eye movements. There is no eye movement during the entire apparition (from 3 to 45 minutes). There is also the simultaneous raising of their heads and gazing upwards while remaining fixated on a spot moving upwards when the apparition is finishing.

3) Two of the alleged visionaries do not blink at all during the apparition. The eyeball normally dries when there is no regular blinking (15-20 times a minute) to moisten the cornea, but lacrimal secretion does not seem necessary during the apparition. The other alleged visionaries blink about half the normal rate. None of them blinks in response to touching the eye during the apparition (cornea sensitivity to varying pressures is completely absent), although they blink normally at other times.

4) There is no reaction to pain during the apparition. When touched with an algometer, which causes a cutaneous lesion or skin burn, there was complete absence of sensitivity. The alleged visionaries react normally to pain at other times.

5) The interesting results of a hearing test before and during an apparition showed normal hearing, but during the apparition, an input of ninety decibels (equivalent to a loud explosion) showed NO reaction. Auditory evoked potential measurement (electrical activity of the ear) indicates normal ear activity with no transmission to the inner ear during the apparition. It is a measurable inhibition of hearing that is involuntary and inexplicable physiologically.

6) Electroencephalographic (EEG) tests confirm that the alleged visionaries' brain functioning is normal and healthy. EEG tests rule out the possibility of epilepsy or psychotic hallucinations. The alleged visionaries are not asleep or dreaming either. Hysterical neurotic reaction or pathological ecstasy is also ruled out by the EEG testing. What EEG testing showed was that before the apparition, the brain waves are predominantly beta rhythm interspersed by alpha rhythm (normal conscious attentiveness). At the start of the apparition, the beta rhythm remains for a short time and then is replaced by an almost uninterrupted alpha rhythm. Alpha rhythm is most often observed during relaxation, in a state of expectation, or engaged in meditation. It also usually requires practice to achieve such a diffuse response. Because most of the brain is devoted to visual processing, it is noteworthy that the alpha rhythm over the entire cranium was exhibited while the alleged visionaries had their eyes wide open throughout the apparition. Closed eyes would be expected with alph rhythm because visual stimulation usually produces interference with alpha rhythm.

7) To test visual stimulation further, a 1000 watt light bulb was placed in front of the eyes of the alleged visionaries during the apparition. Not only is a 1000 watt light bulb usually painful to the eye but also it would normally cause increased blinking and influence alpha rhythm. There was no blinking movement of the eyelids to the 1000 watt stimulus. There was an interesting pupillary response. The pupil contracted as one would expect in bright light but there was no change in alpha rhythm to the 1000 watt light. This is scientifically inexplicable and never seen before. FOR THE PUPIL TO RESPOND, THE BRAIN MUST REGISTER THE LIGHT BUT NO BRAIN WAVE CHANGE TOOK PLACE. Additionally, such intense stimulation normally causes a significant cortical response, but none occurred during the apparition period.

8) During the apparition period, another scientifically inexplicable event takes place. The alleged visionaries voices stop during the time that they are having the vision. Even though all the muscles involved in speech continue (all mouth, jaw and throat muscles), the larynx (voice box) shuts off. This is physically impossible. The laryngeal function cannot be physically isolated from the rest of the muscles of speech. The larynx ceases to emit sound during the apparition -- except for one exception. In unison, during the apparition the alleged visionaries will be heard simultaneously praying, "Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name..." When asked, they report Mary is leading them in the Lord's Prayer.

9) In summary, the unique aspects of the results of the scientific investigations point to the conclusion that nothing in the physical realm is allowed to interfere with the apparition experience. Scientific experts have defined the phenomena " as a state of active, intense prayer, partially disconnected from the external world, a state of contemplation with a separate person whom they alone can see, hear, and touch."

I also provide a skeptics view of these tests below in the interests of balanced reporting (quoted directly from http://www.skepticwiki.org/ without change, except to spelling and grammar as the author is not a native English speaker).

“The pages about the works of the three medical committees that studied the seers during the '80s and '90s have been realized by Dr. Marco Margnelli, who has been a member of two of them.

Even not thinking that the results of the works of the three committees can prove, by themselves, anything paranormal in the physiology of the seers during their ecstasies/apparitions, I personally think that the results of the three committees are very interesting because they show that the seers, during the ecstasies, are in an altered physiological state that, from what I have learned from my researches on the field and from the discussions I had with other physiologists, can maybe not be fully understood using the currently available medical literature.

I have done further research on the works of the three medical committees.

Psychologist and skeptic Armando De Vincentiis analyzed some of the works of dr. Margnelli and dr. Gagliardi in his book " Estasi: Stimmate e altri fenomeni mistici " ("Ecstasy: Stigmata and other mystical phenomena" available only in Italian, Avverbi 1999, Rome, page 118).

According to De Vincentiis, about the similarity between ecstatic state and hypnotic state, "the conclusions of the two authors [ Margnelli and Gagliardi ] present several weak points" ( " Estasi: Stimmate e altri fenomeni mistici ", Avverbi 1999, Rome, page 63 ).

Moreover, author De Vincentiis suggests that we should reconsider the role of hysteria (a well-known psychopathology) in all mystical experiences (quoted work, pages 47 trough 49).

I also spoke with a neurologist and skeptic friend of mine, member of the Italian CICAP. He, while acknowledging the importance of the works of Margnelli and Gagliardi, claims that the works of the committees do not prove that anything "paranormal" is happening with the seers.

Willing to have some independent opinion on the works of the medical committees on the seers, I decided to pay two neurologists in my city to speak with me (I can not give the names of the two neurologists, due to privacy reasons).

Both neurologists rejected the conclusion that the medical tests performed on the seers prove that anything paranormal is going on with the seers.

The works of the first committee on the seers of Medjugorje (written in collaboration with Dr. Marco Margnelli)

The first medical committee to study the seers of Medjugorje has been the one of professor Henri Joyeux of the Hospital of Montpellier and of Abbè Laurentin, with the help of doctors B. Hoarau, F. Rouquerol, J. Philippot, R. Volpilière and of Mrs. René Dubois-Chabert.

The committee, during 1984, performed the following tests on some of the seers:
- Electroencephalogram ( EEG ) on Ivanka and Marija;
- Intermittent Luminous Stimulation during EEG, used in clinic neurology to test epilepsy, presumably performed on the same seers ;
- Electrocardiogram on Vicka, Marija and Ivan;
- Hearing test on Ivan, with prompt acoustic stimulation by a 90dB noise;
- other tests;

The results of the above exams have been published in the following books:

In English: Scientific and Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje - R. Laurentin, H. Joyeux - ed Veritas, 1978

In French: Études médicales et scientifiques sur les apparitions de Medjugorje - R. Laurentin, H. Joyeux - ed. François-Xavier de Guibert - Paris, 1986 In Italian: Studi medici e scientifici sulle apparizioni di Medjugorje - R. Laurentin, H. Joyeux - Queriniana - Brescia, 1985

In conclusion, the committee states that (pages 65 and 66 of the French edition):

1. The apparitions are neither dream nor hallucination;
2. Ecstasy appears as a state where ordinary physical perceptions are suspended;
3. Ecstasy is not pathological;
4. [ Ecstasy ] is an subjective perception. This perception is more real than the one from the ordinary world;
5. Ecstasy moves the visionaries into a timezone " sui generis ", that is, different from the timezone " of the wristwatches ";
6. Calling ecstasy with other labels ( hallucination, unconscious emerging, ..) means nothing and contradicts scientific objectivity;
7. The negative character of the exams during ecstasy and the coherent reactions of the seers prompt the hypothesis of a spiritual ( and real ) communication between person and person;
8. Catholic theology underlines the particular character of this phenomena.

Among the facts which brought the committee to claim this conclusion, I chose those which appeared to me as the most significant:

1) on page 21 of the French edition, there is written that, during a test performed on the seers by Dr. Maria Federica Magatti, " .. a motion-picture projector of about 1000 W [ of power ] was moved in the direction of the seers, without provoking any change in the diameter of their pupils [this means the abolition of the photo-motor reflex].. They blinked their eyes, as from natural and spontaneous reflexes ". I searched with Google and Yahoo! about Dr. M. F. Magatti on the web but could not find any result;

2) on page 29 of the French edition, there is written that electroencephalogram performed on Ivan shows that " [ during ecstasy ] He does not sleep. He does not dream. He is in alpha rhythm: the rhythm of receptive wake, the rhythm of the contemplatives during the calmest moments ( when somebody acts or discusses he/she is in beta rhythm );

3) on page 40 of the French edition, there is written that, about the exam on Ivan's hearing abilities, " during ecstasy, conductibility ( transmission of the nervous signal ) remains normal [ .. ] but Ivan is without reaction from a [ prompt ] 90dB noise ( the noise of a piston-engine at peak revs-per-minute condition [ .. ] He will tell us, after the ecstasy, that he did not hear anything ";

4) on page 47 of the French edition, there is written that " .. [during ecstasy ] Ivan and Vicka do not blink their eyes".

As far as I know, currently ecstasies of the seers usually last three to five-six minutes.

To ask more information about these points ( some of them apparently contradict some of the conclusions stated above ) I contacted professor Joyeux.

Professor Joyeux replied to me as follows:

1) He never met Dr. Magatti personally and does not have her address;

2) He confirmed to me the details about how the hearing test was performed on Ivan. The hearing test consisted of a prompt noise of 90 dB. I could not understand from Joyeux's reply if there is any further evidence that Ivan did not actually hear anything, according to Ivan's statements;

3) He confirmed to me that Ivan and Vicka did not blink their eyes at all during the whole apparition, while they did blink their eyes soon before and after the apparition.

The works of the second committee on the seers of Medjugorje (written in collaboration with Dr. Marco Margnelli)

The second medical committee of study on the seers of Medjugorje was organized in 1985 by Luigi Frigerio and Giacomo Mattalia, M. D.s, and included: Prof. Giuseppe Bigi, Physiopatologist, University of Milan; Engineer Saverio Brighenti, Electronic Engineer; Dr.Giorgio Gagliardi, Cardiologist and Psychologist; Dr. Paolo Maestri, Othorinolaryngologist; Prof. Marco Margnelli, Neurophysiologist; Dr. Raffaele Pugliese, Doctor Surgeon; Prof. Maurizio Santini, Neuropsychopharmacologist, University of Milan.

The Commission, during three episodes of ecstasy/apparition, was able to study three different seers:


1. visual evoked potentials (appraisal of the sight functionality );
2. acoustic evoked potentials (appraisal of the hearing functionality );
3. impedentiometry (appraisal of the functionality of the physical structures of reception of the sound in the middle ear);
4. corneal reflexology ( the reflex that closes the eyelids as a result of an external object touching the cornea);
5. pupil reflexology ( the reactions of the pupil in response to unexpected light or dark );
6. plethysmography (the flow of blood in the capillaries of the digital pulp);
7. respiratory function;
8. pain sensibility;
9. spontaneous and evoked electrodermal activity (appraisal of the sensory contact with the environment and the body).

All these observations, wider and deeper than those of the French Committee, but complementary to them, concluded with certainty that:

1) the seers of Medjugorje, during the apparitions, were in a state of consciousness corresponding to what the catholic mystical theology defines as “ecstasy”; that in this state, they had....
2) the complete loss of explored sensibility (blindness, deafness, dolorific anaesthesia, course and fine tactile anaesthesia);
3) the loss of contact with environment, and
4) very obvious sympathetic hyperactivity (cardiac, respiratory and emotional activation)

The loss of the sensibility was demonstrated by the study of the visual and acoustic evoked potentials together with the study of evoked electrodermal activity (performed on Marija and Ivan). Both light flashes and clicks, even though provoking normal cortical reactions did not provoke any electrodermal reaction. That meant that during ecstasy, despite the optical and acoustic pathways working perfectly, the seers did not "see" the light flashes and did not “hear” the clicks. That is like saying (with a comparison comprehensible to all) that the microphone (the ear) and the cable that connected it with the amplifier (the acoustic nerve) worked perfectly (produced normal cortical potential). In the state of wakefulness, prompt and unexpected stimuli like these, provoke changes in the electrical activity of the skin called “psycho-galvanic reactions". This is a parameter very sensitive to any sensory stimulus coming from the environment.

As an example, when a subject is comfortably relaxed with his eyes closed and a pencil is dropped or telephone is ringing, very strong psycho-galvanic reactions are created. These are called "alert responses" or "orientation responses". That clearly indicates that the brain of the subject, even though the eyes are closed, is very tuned in to what is happening in the environment. The fact that, in the seers, the flashes of light and the clicks in the caps did not provoke these reactions demonstrates that, in ecstasy, contact with the environment is lost. However, since the nerve signals arrive regularly in the cortex but are not felt (in the comparison with the microphone that was made before, that means that sounds collected from the microphone arrived regularly to the amplifier but they were not transformed into impulses to be sent to the loudspeakers), it has been deduced that the loss of sensibility was due to a temporary block of recognition and elaboration of the signals from the senses. Another useful metaphor that will help to understand this point is to compare the experimental condition of evoked potentials to a phone call: the experimenter “dials the number” (sets off the flash) on the phone; the phone (the eye) transmits the call; the calling starts and, along the cables of the telephone line (the optical nerves) gets to the receiving phone (the cerebral cortex) and then you have three possibilities:

1) the called user raises the phone and answers (the brain is still in contact with the reality);
2) the receiving telephone answers with a signal of being busy (the brain, engaged in vision, cannot answer
3) the called telephone rings but nobody answers because the user “is somewhere else” (that it is what happened to the seers of Medjugorje).

In the same functional condition was the tactile-cenestesic system, explored through the corneal reflexes, the psycho-galvanic reactions, the behavioural reactions and the dolorific system (explored through dolorific stimulations), the behavioural reactions and the psycho-galvanic reactions. We all know how very annoying a “small object” in an eye can be: not only does it annoy us but it also provokes rubbing of the eyes in an attempt to remove it(behavioural reactions), blinking (blink reflex), tearing (tearing reflex) and, without perceiving it, provokes numerous psycho-galvanic reactions in us. In Medjugorje, one of the investigators, during an ecstasy of Jakov, stimulated with a nylon hair (aesthesiometer of Cocher and Bonnet) an eye of the seer without provoking any of the three types of reactions. Insensibility to pain was demonstrated with dolorific stimuli provided by an instrument called an “ electronic algometer", which consists of a small silver piston (similar to the push-button of a ballpoint pen). When they wanted to test the subject's sensibility to pain, it was pressed on any point of the,skin so as to make it re-enter its lodging for long enough to activate a switch which heated it to approximately 50° C ( 122 °F ), a temperature moderately painful but not injurious in the short term. This stimulation made in a state of wakefulness, for example on one hand, provoked a behavioural reaction consisting of the withdrawal of the limb in about one quarter of a second (behavioral reflex reaction of defense). In ecstasy the small piston could be held on the limb for two to four seconds without any hint of withdrawal, and also, without any psychogalvanic reflex. This demonstrated that the subjects did not feel the pain.

The passing of the psycho-galvanic reflexes or, as they are called today, of the “electrodermal responses” (Galvanic Skin Responses = GSR), has been demonstrated to be the most important index in order to not only estimate the degree of contact with the environment, but also with the body itself. In the seers of Medjugorje in ecstasy, these losses of contact and knowledge were complete, demonstrating that they were in a modified state of consciousness. The study of the reflexology of the pupils, the heart rate and the flow of blood in the capillaries of the digital pulp (plethysmography) has evidenced, little before and during the first seconds of ecstasy, a remarkable activation of the sympathetic excitatory system (orthosympathetic hyperactivity), a sign that has never been evidenced in the past, both from the doctors who have had any chance to make any semeiological survey (the study of the signs or symptoms of disease) on subjects in ecstasy (mostly in the eighteen hundreds), and from a theologian who had fixed the symptomatology of ecstasy in:

1) alienation of the senses;
2) ecstatic rigidity and;
3) joyfully positive experience.

Orthosympathetic hyperactivity, confirmed by following the researches on other subjects, allows us to pick the starting moment of ecstasy, to differentiate western ecstasies from those oriental (ecstasy of yoga = samadhi) and to hypothesize on the operation of the brain during ecstasy. A short time before ecstasy, for example in Jakov, heart rates of 150/170 beats per minute have been recorded (dangerous frequencies) that, in cardiac pathology, are known as “paroxysmal tachycardia” and require prompt therapy. Soon after the beginning of ecstasy, the heart activity came down drastically towards normality, so that the seer did not show any trace of this transient state of stress. Likewise sympathetic hyperactivity at levels of the micro circulation of the digital pulps was instead demonstrated by the nearly total disappearance of the capillary/arteriolar pulsations, a sign that indicates a vasoconscrictor response of comparable entity, again, to an intense state of stress. Finally, the diameter of the pupils during ecstasy increased (mydriasis) indicating an excitatory response of the sphincter of irides coherent with what in the cutaneous periphery provoked the closing of the precapillary arteriolae.

Studies of the French Commission were designed mostly to exclude the possibility that the seers were simulating, that they were ill and, in particular, that they were either epileptic or hysterical. Beyond having excluded such possibilities, the tests allowed them also to conclude that ecstasy is not a pathological condition and is neither a dream state nor an hallucination. Considering that ecstasy is still considered by many as a pathological condition, a sub clinical condition of epileptic aura, a manifestation of hysteria, a manifestation of serious sexual problems or a state of psychotic dissociation, this conclusion has been very important.

The works of the first Italian Commission have not only widely confirmed this conclusion and the most important data obtained by the French researchers, but they have considerably widened them (certainly strengthened them) so that the conclusion that ecstasy is not a symptom of disease must be considered the main fruit of these researches. It should signal a clear turn of attitude of neurosciences towards mystical phenomenology. However having demonstrated that the seers of Medjugorje were not neurologically sick, neither hysterical nor psychotic, does not prove that the Holy Lady truly appeared to them. If we do not assert that ecstasy itself is a manifestation of the supernatural, the reality of an apparition demands tests that go much beyond the demonstration of the mental health of those people in which it happens.

The studies of the first Italian Committee were designed partly to understand the “nature” of the state of ecstasy or, in other words, to understand how the brain works in this state of consciousness. As an example: What are the mechanisms that allow the abolition of sensibility and, in particular, the abolition of pain? And, from this question, trying to answer the other one which follows: Do other physiological conditions (conditions of normality) exist, in which we find similar phenomena? And then afterwards, facing the remarkable amount of questions that derive from every one of the “signs” of the state of ecstasy, such as why sympathetic hyperactivity is being manifested, why electrodermal activity disappears, and so on. It could be said that investigation of the seers of Medjugorje have opened a new field in the scientific study of mystical phenomena. In order to continue to deepen these searches, Dr. Margnelli and Dr. Gagliardi founded, in 1987, the Centre of Studies and Researches on States of Consciousness Psychophysiology, in which they faced the most important problem in Medjugorje which is the difference between ecstasy and hypnosis.

The works of the third committee on the seers of Medjugorje ( written in collaboration with Dr. Marco Margnelli )

The Third medical committee of study on the seers of Medjugorje was formed by Dr. Giorgio Gagliardi and Father Andreas Resch on precise request of Father Slavko Barbaric who wished to eliminate any doubts, coming from more parts, on authenticity of the ecstasies/apparitions that were repeated daily for more than ten years. Scientifically, this control came as a precious occasion to repeat the observations of 1985, to deepen the psychiatric/personologic study on the seers and to lead experiments of hypnosis in ideal conditions. Researches have been executed on Marija Pavlovic, Ivan Dragicevic and, partially, on Ivanka Ivankovic, to whom currently the Virgin appears irregularly, at the " Casa Incontri Cristiani " of Capiago Intimiano (Como) during the month of April of 1998.

Other observations have been made by Dr. Gagliardi in the months of July and November of the same year, in Medjugorje, on Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo that had and has ecstasies/apparitions on the second day of each month and on every birthday and has been submitted to experiments of guided visualization to be able to compare the psychophysiology of such conditions with the one of the ecstasies/apparitions of the other seers.

The Commission was composed by:

Prof. Andreas Resch, Redemptorist priest, theologian and psychologist, director of Institut für Grenzgebeite der Wissenschaft - Innsbruck and professor of clinical psychology and paranormology at the Academia Alfonsina of the Pontificial Lateranensis University in Rome; Dr. Giorgio Gagliardi, physician, psychophysiologist and psychotherapist, vice-director of the Centre of Studies and Researches on States of Consciousness Psychophysiology - Milan, teacher at the Italian Medical Association for the Study of Hypnosis and European School of Hypnotic Psychotherapy - AMISI Milan and member of the Center for Parapsychological Studies ( C. S. P. ) - Bologna;

Prof. Marco Margnelli, neurophysiologist, Director of the Centre of Studies and Researches on States of Consciousness Psychophysiology - Milan and teacher at the Italian Medical Association for the Study of Hypnosis and European School of Hypnotic Psychotherapy - AMISI Milan , President of the Italian Society for the Study of States of Consciousness, (SISSC), Pinerolo

Dr. Fabio Alberghina, general practitioner - Valbrona ( CO ), Italy;

Dr. Marianna Bolko, physician and psychoanalyst, teacher at the School of Specialization in Psychotherapy at the University of Bologna;

Dr. Mario Cigada, physician and psychotherapist, specialised in ophthalmology, teacher at the Italian Medical Association for the Study of Hypnosis and European School of Hypnotic Psychotherapy - AMISI Milan;

Dr. Rosanna Costantini, psychologist and teacher at the Pontificial Faculty of Educational Sciences " Auxilium " - Rome;

Dr. Giovanni Li Rosi, physician and gynaecologist at the Central Hospital of Varese - Italy, expert in hypnosis;

Dr. Daniela Lucini, M.D. and Ph.D., Research Center of Neurovegetative Therapy - University of Milan;

Dr. Virginio Nava, physician and psychiatrist, former head physician at the Psychiatric Hospital in Como, Italy;

Dr. Massimo Pagani, physician and professor of Medicine at the University of Milan and Director of the Center of Research on Neurovegetative Therapy, University of Milan;

Dr. Gaetano Perricone, physician and specialist in internal medicine at the FBF Hospital - Erba ( CO );

Dr. Luigi Ravagnati, physician and neurosurgeon, former assistant of neurosurgery at the University of Milan and teacher at the Italian Medical Association for the Study of Hypnosis and European School of Hypnotic Psychotherapy - AMISI Milan;

Dr. Gabriella Raffaelli, secretary at the Centre of Studies and Researches on States of Consciousness Psychophysiology - Milan;

Fiorella Gagliardi, former secretary at the Centre of Studies and Researches on States of Consciousness Psychophysiology.

The researches consisted of:

· Deep psychospiritual interviews;
· Psychological/psychodiagnostic/personologic inquiries (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, EPI, Middlesex Hospital Questionnaire, Test of the Tree, Test of the Person, Matrices of Raven, Test of Rorschach, Test of the hand, Valsecchi Test of truth and lie );
· Neurological visit; - Psychophysiological studies of the state of ecstasy by recording electrodermal activity, the pneumograms, the plethysmograms of a digit, the pupillar reflexes, by the dynamic recordings of electrocardiograms, arterial blood pressure and respirograms according with the Holter);
· Experiments of Hypnosis.

The results of the research have been published in: “I Veggenti di Medjugorje. Ricerca Psicofisiologica 1998”, by A. Resch and G. Gagliardi, Resch Verlag, Innsbruck, 1999.

The greater part of the work regarded the study of the state of mental health, the sincerity, of the personality and the psychospiritual attitude of the seers. Such studies, uniques by extension and depth in the history of the medicine and the religion, have confirmed that the three seers of Medjugorje studied in Capiago Intimiano and Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo, studied in Medjugorje, were not hysteric, epileptic, psychologically weak and that they did not suffer from troubles of the sexuality, of the thought, of emotions and of the sociality. Psychophysiological studies, other than having confirmed good part of the results of the surveying of the Second Committee, of 1985, in this occasion has allowed an accurate verification, by the study of the ortho - parasympathetic equilibrium, of the increase of the neurovegetative excitatory tone before beginning of the ecstatic state, a characteristic of the Catholic Christian ecstasy that had not been identified in the past but that it has been revealed precious in order to establish the authenticity of an ecstasy.

Of remarkable importance, finally, have been the experiments of hypnosis. The several hypotheses of researchers of the past and the studies executed at the Centre of Studies and Researches on States of Consciousness Psychophysiology - Milan ( results published in: “Le apparizioni della Madonna: da Lourdes a Medjugorje”, by M. Margnelli and G.Gagliardi, Riza Scienze, 1987 ) demonstrated remarkable likenesses between the state of ecstasy and the hypnotic trance. In particular, various signs of ecstasy, such as the partial or total abolition of the sensibility or the muscular rigidity, can be inducted, by means of opportune suggestions, on hypnotized subjects. It was (and it is) therefore, important to try to induce one state of ecstasy on subjects in hypnosis and to compare the psychophysiology of the two states: if ecstasy and hypnosis are equal, the psychophysiology that precedes the beginning of hypnotic ecstasy should be equal to the one of the beginning of natural ecstasy (increase of the ortho-sympathetic tone with lessening or disappearance of the arteriolar pulsations in the digital pulps, lessening or disappearance of the electrodermic responses to sensory stimuli, that is, of the orienting responses , fixed mydriasis with disappearance of the reflexes of the pupils to the light).

In the previous experiments and partly in those executed in Capiago Intimiano, it has been tried to induce ecstasy“suggesting” to the seers the feelings that everyone of them declared to feel before entering ecstasy, such as heartthrob, gasping breath or intense emotion and then with sentences such as: “Now she is there, in front of you!” or: “You see her!”. With such method it has never been possible to induce one psychophysiology overlapping to the one which precedes spontaneous ecstasy and therefore, cautiously, it was concluded that, like theologians strongly assert, ecstasy and hypnosis are two states that have nothing to share between them. However, in one of the experiments of hypnosis lead on Marija, instead of by oral suggestions, it has been attempted to reproduce the experience that preceded the entrance in ecstasy making the seer listen, while in trance, the acoustic recording of the Rosary that she recited the day before waiting for the Apparition and, with great surprise of theinvestigators, part of the psychophysiology ( amplitude of the arteriolar pulsations of digital pulps ) turned out to be completely similar to those that precedes spontaneous ecstasy. Since other parameters (orienting responses, reflexology of the pupils, etc.) were not studied with sufficient extension, we do not have enough evidences in order to assert that mystical ecstasy is, in practical, one state of trance particularly deep, but the results invite to lead extended and accurate inquiries.


The Third Commission of study of the ecstasies/apparitions of Medjugorje, therefore, confirmed that:

1) the seers enjoy optimal psychophysical health;
2) the seers do not simulate their experience;
3) that ecstasy is not a psychopathologic event and that after 18 years of daily apparitions it has not provoked any damage to the psychophysical health of the seers;
4) that the ecstasies/apparitions observed in Capiago Intimiano in the 1998 were characterized by the same psychophysiology observed in Medjugorje in 1985;
5) that such psychophysiology is the same that has been observed in other ecstatics/seers, therefore so that ecstasy is one state of conscience physiological and not pathological;
6) that, also having obtained with the experiments of hypnosis a result never obtained in the previous experiments (plethysmogram verysimilar to the one of spontaneous ecstasy), still we have no proof that ecstasies and hypnosis are the same thing.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home