Supernaturalism, Miracle, Medical Treatment, Religious Authority, Quackery, Commerce
Discusses a report in The Times of the allegedly miraculous ophthalmic properties of the 'oil of St. Walburga', administered by Johann A E G Schaffgotsch, Bishop of Brünn, on the diseased eyes of a girl from 'the Daughters of Christian Charity'. Argues that the feat was probably the result of 'preconcerted dodgery' and served to make more converts to the Christian institution to which the girl belonged. Regards the bishop's announcement as a form of medical quackery—of creating 'popular demand' of his 'eye specific'—similar to the puffery of 'Lord Holloaway'. The article goes on to predict that other continental 'getters-up of miracles' will copy this example of having their 'infallible specifics' certified by bishops, who will themselves gain from this arrangement by acquiring supplies of the 'quack miracle and medicine'. Predicts that the 'dodge of these Brünn Sisters' will be copied by dealers in such holy relics as 'the toe-nails of St. Vitus' and the 'tears of St. Blubba', all certified as unadulterated by a prelate. Concludes by anticipating the medical use of 'the oil of St. Walburga' if 'ever England should become a Roman Catholic dominion', and by describing the trade in such cures. The illustration shows a cardinal advertising his 'Miraculous Relics' and other dubious wares.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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