My Little Miracle Man
Then he produces a pair of medical tweezers and shoves them up the man's nostril. A small stream of blood runs out. The audience leans forward to catch every moment of this public performance given to convince the sceptical of Joao's healing powers, most of which operate invisibly.
A hypnotic cloud enfolds us as we watch the tweezers being twisted and pushed, as though they are reaching deep inside the man and fixing what's wrong. Joao pulls out the tweezers, the blades of which are clamped around a bloodstained swab. He displays it to the crowd as a magician might display a rabbit he had pulled out of a top hat, and drops it into the basin held out by an acolyte. The still hypnotised volunteer is manoeuvred into a chair and carried to the recovery room. Joao disappears to begin the real work of the day. Abadiania, the small hilltop village in central Brazil where Joao works every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, has been awake for several hours, to make the most of the morning before scorching heat leaches the body of energy.
Casa de Dom Inacio the House of St Ignatius Loyola , where Joao has held court since , is full of people, many of whom have travelled for days to see him. We all wear white, as he says this makes his work easier. Describing that work isn't easy. People who knew I was making the trip from Ireland warned me that I was joining a cult. When I arrive, however, it is easy to see that this place does not qualify.
Joao does not seem to have a personality of his own that would get the sort of power fix an ego-driven cult leader needs. Joao Portuguese for John, pronounced to rhyme with wow is a medium. The son of a tailor, he has had only two years of formal education, but his psychic powers mean that he can channel the medical expertise of 33 deceased doctors, surgeons, dentists and other spirit guides including King Solomon, St Ignatius Loyola and Oswaldo Cruz - a doctor who eradicated yellow fever in Brazil. When I visit, the casa is quiet because a recent economic crisis has led to a shortage of extra cash for Brazilians to make pilgrimages of this kind.
There is no charge to see Joao, and only a nominal charge for the herbal medicines he prescribes devised by his spirit guides and made on the premises , but the cost of travelling and accommodation, given the enormous size of Brazil, can be prohibitive for poor people. Nevertheless, during each of the two daily sessions, he sees more than people in three hours.
A young man in a wheelchair has travelled from Australia in the hope of finding a cure for the muscular dystrophy which has left him bone thin and fragile. A woman from South Africa has a tumour in her heart. An Englishman in a wheelchair because of a bad fall during a trip on LSD. A wasted Brazilian woman, who can't be more than 20, leaning on a stick. A white woman carrying a child with cerebral palsy. An older couple guiding a mentally handicapped girl. A black man with a huge growth on his neck. These people, many of whom have tried all other possible remedies, are hoping that Joao will cure them, or at least give them the answers which they have not found anywhere else.
First-time visitors get in line to see Joao or "the Entity" as he is known when he does his channeling work. It is a humbling experience, waiting, alternately swayed by the eddying emotions of the people surging around, some of whom are weeping; and soothed by the prayers which are uttered in Portuguese by Joao's helpers - other mediums and people he has cured who assist him at the casa. One of the latter is a Brazilian called Sirlei who came here five years ago, her abdomen and lungs riddled with inoperable cancer.
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Now no cancer remains except for a tumour in one of her breasts. Sirlei's journey towards health has been a long one. People are more interested in stories of instant cures. These are swapped back and forth during the long periods of waiting which attending the casa involves. Joao is said to have filled a syringe full of the man's blood and injected it into himself, saying "Now, if you die, I die. The paraplegic, Raul Natal, who was able to walk after being immobile for 50 years.
The casa's archives bulge with miles of video footage and testimonies of people who have been cured. They include Shirley MacLaine, who came here in and was operated on invisibly for cancer of the stomach. Her progress was observed and confirmed by other doctors. Another testimonial is from the son of an employee of the Brazilian Ministry of Health. The young man had a brain tumour four centimetres wide and was told by medical experts in the US that that if he had an operation his chances of survival were 50 per cent.
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He went to Joao, and after three days an X-ray confirmed that the tumour was gone. Martin Mosquera, the Argentinian in whose guest house I am staying, has witnessed two cures. Six years ago, when he was a medical student, he brought his mother to Joao because she was suffering with a painful hernia. His new wife, Fernanda, was cured of cancer of the colon. The casa has two "current" rooms, where visitors are invited to pray and meditate. You must keep your eyes closed, and your legs and arms uncrossed, to allow the healing current to flow more easily.
An invisible operation could occur at any time or place. An Irishman, here to video the progress of two friends in wheelchairs, collapses with his camcorder in his hand and is brought to the recovery room, where he is told he has had an operation. In the second current room Joao sits "in Entity", big and inscrutable. He takes one look at me, says something in Portuguese, and scribbles on a piece of paper. My visit has taken all of 20 seconds, yet I feel as though his large eyes have read me inside out.
The scribbles mean I'm due for an invisible operation and a course of herbal medicine. The operation takes about 10 minutes and is painless. I sit with other people in a quiet room, eyes closed. I am told to cradle the painful part of my body with my hand in my case, my belly. A numb, sleepy feeling comes over me and I feel little twists and movements going on inside: invisible scalpels at work, or simply my imagination? I recall a cautionary tale - told by Liam, a stroke victim from Dublin here for the fourth time, recovering in spite of Irish doctors telling him his mobility would not improve - of a hard chaw who did not believe in his invisible operation.
He was found dead the next day. When they did an autopsy, they found ruptured stitches inside. Alcohol and sex are forbidden for 40 days. Hard to say whether I can really believe I've got actual stitches inside after what seemed like a short period of meditation. But I'm not going to risk going on a boozing binge in Brasilia. I feel tired and dizzy for the rest of the day, with a growing rawness in the area where I have had a duodenal ulcer, and which still becomes inflamed with pain when I am stressed.
Perhaps this is where the operation has taken place. I compare notes with Kevin, a Dublin man here for the second time because of his MS. He feels sleepy, as though emerging from an anaesthetic. He is sure that some work has been done on his head, but what it may be he has no idea.
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Later Kevin bravely asks Joao if he will walk again. He is happy to hear that he will, but only after he does a lot of spiritual healing work on himself. The unexpected rather than the miracle cure seems to be the order of the day. It was during the scandal when prominent people for obvious reasons were accused of paying big money to have their portraits published in the New York Town Topics. President Roosevelt quickly looked at him in surprise at his publicly mentioning the doings of a cabinet in privatesession when you, Mr.
President, and we considered the President very uneasily twisted and turned in his chair ' that is, we were considering the advisability Mr. President looked daggers at him for daring to publicly repeat what was always considered confidential, but Mr. William H. Taft, afterwards President Taft, and a man, of great humor, spoke at another gathering.
I heard Mr.
He was a man of brains, but not of gab. But everybody was vociferously applauded all the same. A cruiser which had patrolled the coast was suddenly ordered elsewhere and the New Englanders, fearing a hostile visit from the enemy, deluged Washington with telegrams and letters and delegations demanding protection at once.
I happened to be in Washington at the time, and was accompanying Eddie Hood, of the Associated Press, in his daily round of the Government offices. We dropped into the office of Mr. John Hay,. Secretary of State, and there met his assistant, Mr. John Bassett Moore, who afterwards succeeded Mr. After a short stay we were about to leave when Mr. Moore asked us to wait a minute, and disappeared into an adjoining room. On returning, a minute or so later, he asked me if I would like to meet Mr. Hay, and immediately ushered me into his presence. Hay had a keen piercing eye, and he looked at me searchingly.
Would you do me a favor? That is impossible, but I want to assure them that they will be protected from any Spanish fleet. Could you get me a daily message from Halifax reporting the approach of any Spanish men-of-war? I told him I would try, and he gave me the address to which the messages were to be sent. I looked it up and it was the residence of Mr. Wilkie, the head of the U. I went to Halifax, and saw Charlie Philps, the local C.
There was no name, but I had a number, which identified me at Washington. This money was forwarded to Halifax to be divided between the four signal men. All went smoothly until all danger of an attack was past, when I was notified that there was no further necessity for the messages.
MIRACLE MAN—and OTHERS | Maclean's | February 1st,
Oh, well—perhaps I may get a war medal or some other decoration from Washington some of these days, but I am not banking on it. At the old Willard Hotel, Jimmy Anderson, the colored porter, put one over me. My room was chilly, and Jimmy came daily and lighted a fire. He told me a sad, sad tale about his wife and children having in the far past been.
The tears trickled down his wrinkled cheeks and he appealed to me so pitifully that I gave him a couple of dollars and temporarily soothed his saddened heart. In about a year I was again at the old Willard, and roomed on the same floor. Meeting the motherly housekeeper one morning, I asked her as to the whereabouts of Jimmy.
She enquired if I wanted to see him, to which I replied in the affirmative. Why, the old rascal is over at Atlantic City now with his wife and eleven youngsters, all fat and hearty. One day Ned Farrer and I were wandering around Chevy Chase, just outside the city, when we casually ran across a fine old type of a Southern gentleman.
Entering into conversation he told us we were on historic ground; it.
That night was a misty one, and the scouts sent out mistook the haycocks, which were in plenty, for the tents of the northern soldiers. Imagining that their venture could not be successfully carried out, they quickly re-. Some Anecdotes A WARM personal friend, who has been reading these reminiscences, very kindly writes me his appreciation of them, and adds a few incidents which he thinks I had forgotten. Here they are in all their glory and exaggeration.
He says:. Never having met up before, they introduced each other in Western fashion. Morgan, and passed, Mr. I knew a whole lot of the boys, and that fact led Sam B. But I had been absent. This was done in the following letter to Mr. My dear Captain:—Yours of the 17th received this morning and found me full of rheumatism and sobriety, but in all other respects, like our friend Mr. Let me say first, however, that the fact that he is a particular friend of yours will not seriously militate against him—with yours truly at any rate. Before I could give my entire adhesion to Mr. I must perfectly understand the platform on which he seeks election.
Does he believe in protection or closer trade relations with Terra del Fuega and Tatamagouche? Is he Protestant or an American? Is he a staunch Scott Act man, or does he believe in five cent beer? Does he favor the absorption of the Intercolonial by the C. Is he married, or does he sing in the choir and have more fun? Does he belong to the Loyal Orange Association, and what are his terms to customers who are morally good but financially bankrupt? What does he think of Windsor Junction as a commercial metropolis?
Is he a Christian or a Grit?
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Does he travel on a pass or on his shape? Does he enjoy a University education and what is his attitude towards God-fearing hired girls? Can he drink gracefully out of a jug and who does he think should succeed Tennyson as Poet Laureate? Can he skate or does he just let her slide? Does he shave himself, and can he repeat the Ten Commandments in the United States language? How is he on the goose, and does he pay by cheque or I.
Will he make affidavit that Jimmy McShane is a bigger man than Gladstone? Would he prefer the rheumatism to poker dice? What are his politics and how much are they worth? Does he belong to the Church of England or sleep in the store? And between you and me, what are Mr. These few questions satisfactorily answered will secure both my moral and immoral support. By the by, what office is he running for? Townsend, unfortunately—for me— read this aloud in a tobacco store one evening. Henry Dalby, then a writer on the Montreal Star, entered the store to purchase some cigars, and getting an earful of the contents, grabbed the letter, and, to my consternation, it appeared in the paper the next evening just as I arrived in town and met the President of the Canadian Pacific Railway, who evidently had enjoyed the effusion.
The next time Larry Wilson ran for president, his opponent was Mr. Petersburg on the western coast is a favorite resort. They are greatly in evidence everywhere, and last January, on a very warm day, I strolled over to the City Park, which was thronged with merry-makers. The band was playing popular airs, and many Canadians were indulging in dominoes, checkers, euchre, and other old-fashioned card games, and for the first time since boyhood days I saw quite a number pitching quoits with horse-shoes.
I took a hand in the game, and nearly hit the man that beat the big drum, goodness knows how many yards away. It was a grand day. Browse Issues Search Subscribe Now. HAM February 1 Click to View Article Pages. And yet it From the primitive little Oratory of St. An Afternoon of Gloom THE next time the hospital wards housed me was out in Vancouver, where I had acquired a pretty badly smashed knee while witnessing a lacrosse match at New Westminster where that club played the Shamrocks of Montreal.
John Hay, Secretary of State, and there met his assistant, Mr. Ham, you are from Canada. He told me a sad, sad tale about his wife and children having in the far past been stolen by the Georgia men men from Georgia and his life had been one of long suffering sorrow and lonesomeness ever since. But I had been absent from Montreal for a couple of years, and, not being closely in touch with current affairs, naturally sought for information.
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