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Painting depicting Jesus speaking to large crowd

7 unbelievable miracles from throughout history

Jesus Christ has been credited with some of history's most famous apparent miracles | Public Domain

The notion of miracles has fascinated humankind for centuries. Events that appear divine or supernatural in origin can change people's entire outlook on the world. However, can we really be sure if any of these so-called miracles have actually taken place?

When we look back through the annuls of history, miracles have been documented from all over the world. But we must take these records with a proverbrial pinch of salt. Stories may have been altered or exaggerated as they got passed down through the generations...and some of them may just be entire works of fiction.

Whether you choose to believe or not, here are seven famous miracles from the last two millennia.

1. Jesus turns water into wine (Galilee, 1st century AD)

Perhaps one of the most famous miracles in history is the divine act said to have occurred in the town of Cana, Galilee. Here Jesus, his mother, and his disciples attended a wedding. After Mary let her son know that the wedding party has gone through its supply of wine, Jesus remedied the situation.

The Gospel of John relates how Jesus asked that containers of water be brought to him. Jesus then apparently wowed the guests by turning the jugs of water into wine.

2. The fireproof saint (Anatolia, 2nd century AD)

Another one of the most famous early miracles is reported to have occurred at the execution of Saint Polycarp in 155 AD. The 86-year-old Bishop of Smyrna in modern-day Turkey was sentenced to be burned at the stake after offending the Roman emperor.

A surviving eyewitness account claims that when the executioners lit the stack of wood around the bishop, a huge wall of flames belched out and took the shape of a giant ‘sail of a vessel filled by the wind’. This big fiery canopy then surrounded and protected the bishop. Inside, his flesh wasn’t burning but was like ‘gold and silver refined in a furnace’.

The holy man stood there, bound to the stake, apparently immune to the flames licking near to him. The guards were therefore ordered to rush in and stab him to death, which they did. Blood gushed out like a fountain and completely extinguished the fire. The bishop’s dead body was then, somewhat ironically, cremated.

3. Saint Thomas Becket and the cheese (England, 12th century)

Saint Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1160s, had over 700 miracles attributed to him alone. These miracles, one of which concerned two children and a wheel of cheese, were recorded by two 12th-century monks.

Beatrice, a young girl living in Ramsholt, Suffolk, lost a lump of cheese she’d been given by her mother and asked her younger brother to help find it. The youngsters were stumped as the cheese was nowhere to be found. They prayed to Saint Thomas Becket for assistance who apparently came to them in a dream and guided them to the cheese.

4. The invincible vicar (Germany, 17th century)

Some people are born lucky, but Reverend Johannes Osiander of Tübingen, Germany, was so lucky that his life must be nothing short of a miracle. Born in 1657, throughout his life Johannes seemed to go from one serious accident to another – but apparently always emerged from them completely unharmed.

To list just a few of his mishaps, he was repeatedly shot by robbers but suffered not even a graze from a bullet. He was attacked by a huge wild boar and knocked over, but didn’t have a bump on him. He sustained no cuts, bruises, or breaks at all when his horse fell on top of him. A large tree once fell on him but did no damage. He supposedly dug his way out of a mountain of snow after an avalanche fell on him. And he survived a shipwreck only to be trapped underwater by the rescue ship – after which he popped up from beneath the foam, alive of course.

The clergyman probably surprised everyone he knew when he died in 1724.

5. The miracle-mania at Saint-Médard (France, 18th century)

In May 1727, at the church of Saint-Médard in the centre of Paris, hundreds of mourners poured in for the funeral of François de Pâris, a 36-year-old deacon who had died from malnutrition.

The grieving flock was astounded when a young boy, who could not properly use one of his legs, went into a seizure after touching the deacon’s coffin. The lad then stopped moving, rose up, and started dancing for joy, apparently cured of his leg impairment.

The supernatural phenomena seemed to catch on fast and soon spilled out into the church’s graveyard. The religious mania of the ‘convulsionnaires’ as they came to be called, grew more and more bizarre and incredible. Dozens of miracle cures were recorded, ranging from cancer to blindness.

One young girl, Gabrielle Moler, after visiting the deacon’s grave and convulsing, asked others to beat her with iron bars and sticks, apparently completely immune to pain and injury. Another, after kneeling at the deacon’s grave, found himself able to jump around like a flea, leaping six or seven feet into the air, even when chained down.

The church was closed down in 1732 and the convulsionnaires were driven underground by the authorities.

6. The miracles of Templemore (Ireland, 20th century)

In August 1920, amid the Irish War of Independence, miraculous phenomena began happening inside the Templemore homes of a Mr Dwan and that of his sister-in-law Mrs Maher. Statues and pictures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary began to flow with blood.

Word got around and very soon believers from all over Ireland were descending on the small County Tipperary town. Many lined up to be touched and healed by the small statues.

A tent city, named Pilgrimsville, soon sprung up in the meadows around Templemore, and local inns were taking bookings from as far away as South Africa and Japan.

A fresh miracle sprang up in Mrs Maher’s house in the form of a hole in her lodger’s bedroom. This small hole was refilled with water no matter how many litres pilgrims took away with them. At the end of September, the pilgrims stopped coming and the miracles came to an end.

7. The healing waters of Lourdes (France, 20th century)

For more than a century and a half, the shrine at Lourdes in France has been one of the world’s most revered sites of pilgrimage.

In 1923, Liverpudlian Jack Traynor visited Lourdes. Traynor was a WWI veteran, and he had nearly died after being shot in the head and the arm. His injuries had worsened over time to the point where half of his body was paralysed and he could no longer walk.

Four days after being immersed in the famous healing waters at Lourdes, he reportedly jumped out of bed and was fit as a fiddle, with full bodily function and apparently completely free of the debilitating effects of his wartime injuries.

The British government supposedly refused to pay his disability pension after this, and so for the next 20 years, he was forced to deliver coal until his death.