There’s an atheist meme going around that there are never any miracles of healing amputations or other serious limb injuries.
They’re wrong, although it’s true that we don’t usually see this in modern times. Miraculous limb transplants and miraculous regrowth of feet, hands, and tongues are pretty common miracle stories. (And obviously the Lord healed St. Malchus’ ear that St. Peter chopped off.) Of course, as soon as one does point out such miracles, the atheist usually tends to change his ground and say that “legendary” or “historical” miracles don’t count. But because that is an atheist meme, I figure that I ought to record some examples in my blog as I run across them.
The interesting thing about this miracle is that the saint’s biographer, Jonas of Bobbio, isn’t particularly impressed by it and doesn’t regard it as one of the saint’s more important miracles or signs. Another interesting thing is that he heard it from the man who was healed, and saw the results. Also, the miracle happened in the full view of many onlookers, who knew both participants well. Finally, while Jesus’ use of His Own saliva for miraculous healing is in the Gospels, it clearly isn’t within natural abilities for someone to use spit as surgical glue, or to be able to heal nerves, muscles, and veins instantly.
Vita S. Columbani, by Jonas of Bobbio (aka Jonae Abbatis Elnonensis). Migne, Patrologiae Latinae, vol. 87, 1025. Translated in The Life of St. Columban, ed. Dana Carleton Munro, Department of History of the University of Pennsylvania, 1895. Slightly adapted by me.
23. If we try to include some things which may seem of little importance, the goodness of the Creator (Who is equally merciful in very small matters and in great, Who does not delay to turn His pitying ear to trifling details, just as in the very important matters He grants the desire of the suppliant) will be manifest to those who bawl envious detractions.
For on a certain day when the excellent man of God had gone with the brethren to cut the harvest near Calmem, which is called Baniaritia, and they were cutting the crop while the south wind blew, one of them, named Theudegisil, happened to sever his finger with a sickle, and the finger hung by only a small strip of skin. [Theudegisilus nomine, digitum falce praecideret, nec prorsus haereret praeter pellis parvo retentaculo.]
The man of God, seeing Theudegisil standing apart, commanded him to continue the work with his companions. But the latter told the reason for his actions. Columban hastened to him, and with his own saliva restored the wounded finger to its former health. [celer ille ad ipsum properat, digitumque illitum saliva pristinae sanitati statim reddit.] Then he ordered Theudegisil to make haste and put forth more strength.
The latter, who had grieved for a long time over his severed finger, joyfully began to work doubly hard and to press on before the others in cutting the grain.
Theudegisil told us this and showed us his finger. [Theudegisilus narravit, digitumque monstravit.]
A similar thing happened on another occasion at the monastery of Luxeuil.
24. For a parish priest named Winnoc, the father of Babolen who is now abbot of Bobbio, went to St. Columban. The latter was in the forest with the brethren, getting a supply of wood. When Winnoc arrived, and was watching with wonder how they split the trunk of an oak so easily with their mallet and wedges, one of the wedges flying from the trunk cut him in the middle of the forehead, so that great waves of blood ran from his veins. The man of God, Columban, seeing the blood flowing and the bone uncovered, immediately fell on the ground in prayer, then rising, healed the wound with his saliva, so that hardly a sign of a scar remained.