Medical Knowledge in the Canonization Process
The canonization process always sought the input of doctors wielding the most up-to-date diagnostic and therapeutic methods. Over time, the average number of physicians involved steadily increased. Consultants sometimes argued over the diagnosis or management. Local experts were invoked to ascertain the physical condition of the supposedly cured patient, or to comment on the extraordinary nature of the events. The average number of medical experts also increased through time.
The investigation annoyed some doctors; others were defensive, especially when the testimony was elicited many years after the cure. Originally a question about the religious practices of witnesses was a key part of their testimony. Eventually, medical witnesses were not required to be practicing Catholics; some were Protestants or Jews. In all cases, the doctors’ testimony was sought for its scientific content and clinical expertise. Miracles take place when the doctor is surprised by the outcome of desperate situations.
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