HENRY WENT TO BED
IT was not only at Lourdes that miraculous cures had taken place. Many, whose maladies prevented them from repairing to the Grotto had procured some of the water and found their most inveterate symptoms suddenly disappear.
At Nay, at the base of the Pyrenee mountains, there was a young lad called Henry Busquet who had fallen hopelessly into bad health. He had, in 1856, a violent and long typhoid fever, the result of which was that an abscess had formed on the right side of his neck, spreading imperceptibly to the top of his chest and the extremity of his cheek. The abscess was about as big as your hand. This caused the lad such intense suffering as to force him at times to roll himself on the ground. The medical man who attended him, Doctor Subervielle, a practitioner of great repute in his district, lanced the abscess about four months after its first formation, and there issued from it a vast quantity of sero-purulent matter; but this operation did not conduce to the recovery of Henry. After having tried several unavailing remedies, the Doctor thought of the waters at Cauterets. In 1857, in the course of the month of October―a season of the year when the rich frequenters of the baths having taken their departure, those in poorer circumstances repair to them― young Busquet went to Cauterets and took a course of fifteen baths. These proved more prejudicial than useful to him and served but to aggravate his sores. His malady increased in violence notwithstanding some momentary relief. The unfortunate lad had, in the parts mentioned above, an extensive ulcer, which emitted an abundant suppuration, covering the top of his chest, all one side of his neck, and threatened to spread to his face. In addition to this, two fresh glandular swellings of considerable size had arisen at the side of this terrible ulcer.
Such was the state of this poor lad when, happening to hear the marvelous effects of the water of the Grotto spoken of, he had thoughts of undertaking the journey to Lourdes. He wished to leave home and make the pilgrimage on foot; but he presumed too much on his own strength, and his parents refused to take him there.
Henry, who was very pious, was haunted with the idea that he would be cured by the Virgin who had appeared to Bernadette. He requested a woman, one of his neighbors, who was going to Lourdes, to draw for him a little of the water at the Spring. She brought him a bottle-full of it on the evening of Wednesday, April the 28th, the Feast of the Patronage of St. Joseph.
Towards eight o’clock at night, before retiring to rest, the lad knelt down and prayed to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary.
His family, consisting of his father, mother and several brothers and sisters, joined with him in prayer. They were all excellent people simple and full of faith: one of the daughters is at the present moment a religieuse with the Sisters of Saint André.
Henry went to bed. Doctor Subervielle had charged him repeatedly never to use cold water, as it would inevitably lead to a serious complication of his malady; but at that moment Henry was thinking of something else than medical prescriptions. He removed the bandages and lint which covered his ulcer, and with a piece of linen soaked in the water from the Grotto, he bathed and washed his sores in the miraculous fluid. He was not wanting in faith. “It must be,” he thought to himself, “that the Virgin will effect my cure.” He went to sleep with this hope in his breast and fell into a deep slumber.
On awaking, what he had hoped proved a reality: all his pain had ceased, all his sores were closed; the glandular swellings had disappeared. The ulcer had became a solid scar, as solid as if it had been slowly healed by the hand of time. The eternal power which had stepped in and effected the cure, had performed in a few moments the work of several months or several years. His recovery had been complete, sudden and without any intermediate state of convalescence.
The medical men in their Report addressed to the Commission (from which we have derived the technical terms employed in our narration), humbly acknowledged the miraculous nature of the young lad’s recovery.
“All affections of this nature,” observed one of them, “can only be cured very slowly, because they are connected with scrofulous diathesis, and involve the necessity of an entire change in the system. This consideration alone, placed in opposition with the suddenness of the cure, is sufficient to prove that the fact in question deviates from the ordinary action of nature. We rank it among facts which fully and evidently possess a supernatural character.”
The lad’s usual medical attendant, Doctor Subervielle, declared this sudden cure―as indeed did every one―to be marvelous and divine; but the restless skepticism, which often lurks at the bottom of the hearts of members of the Faculty, waited for time to afford full proof of the truth of his theory.
“Who knows,” M. Soubervielle was often in the habit of saying, “but who knows, this malady may recur when Henry reaches the age of eighteen? Up to that period I shall be always in a state of anxiety.”
The eminent physician who spoke thus was not destined to rejoice at seeing the cure of Henry confirmed by time. He died a short time after this and his death was a calamity to that part of the country.
As to young Henry Busquet, the author of this book, in accordance with his practice of ascertaining the truth of facts by personal investigation, availed himself of the opportunity of seeing him and hearing the circumstances from his own lips.
Henry told us his story, with which we are already acquainted from official reports and the testimony of several individuals. He related it to us as if it had been the simplest thing in the world, without showing surprise of astonishment. To the strong good sense of Christians, like Henry, sprung from the lower classes, whose minds have not been led astray by sophistry, the supernatural does not appear extraordinary, still less contrary to reason. They find it strictly conformable with common sense. If they are sometimes surprised at being restored to health by the aid of a physician, it is to them not matter for astonishment that God, who had power sufficient to create man, should, in his loving kindness, cure him when attacked with sickness. They see clearly at a glance that a miracle, far from disturbing order, is on the contrary one of the laws of eternal order. If God, in His mercy, has conferred on certain waters the virtue of removing maladies of certain kinds―if He cures indirectly those who employ, according to certain conditions, such material agency, have we not greater reason to believe that He will effect a direct cure in those who address themselves directly to Him? Such is the reasoning of the humbler classes.
It was our great wish to see with our own eyes and touch with our own hands the traces of this terrible sore, which had been so miraculously cured. The place where the ulcer was is marked by an immense scar. It is now long since the lad passed safely through the crisis of his eighteenth year, and there has been no hint of any return of his cruel malady. He has never suffered again from any running nor shown any tendency to glandular swellings, and he enjoys perfect health. Henry Busquet is now a man of five and twenty years of age, strong and hearty. Like his father, he is a plasterer by trade. On Sundays he plays the trombone in the brass band at the Faufare de l’ Orphéon, an instrument on which he displays no small talent. He has a splendid voice. If ever you happen to go to the town of Nay, you will not fail of hearing him through the windows of some house, either being built or repaired, for, when on the scaffolding, he is wont to sing at the top of his voice from morning till night. You may listen to him without any fear of your ears being offended by any coarse song. His charming voice delights in gay and innocent ballads, not infrequently in the canticles of the Church. The singer has not forgotten that it is to the Blessed Virgin Mary that he owes his life.