"Miracles" and Sense of Peace: Banal Wonders. A Comparative Analysis
by Marco Corvaglia
Extraordinary or Ordinary?
Clemente Domínguez, "seer" of Palmar de Troya, self-proclaimed pope of the schismatic Palmarian Church he founded himself.
Clemente Domínguez was a grotesque character (initially he found favour worldwide with the Catholics, but in 1978 came to declare himself pope and to found a schismatic church and yet his "visions" were linked to the same phenomena that today amaze the Medjugorje devotees.Actually, in a scientific viewpoint, these phenomena do not prove anything.
Clemente’s "Miracles of the Sun"
On 30 March 1970, Clemente said he received this message from the Madonna:
My son, I want you to go to Garabandal.
[El Palmar de Troya. Mensajes sobrenaturales trasmitidos a Clemente Domínguez Gómez (with a foreword by Gerardo R. Alfaro), Difusora Mariana Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1976, p. 77]
Consequently, on April 4 he went there with a large group of the faithful, among them Francisco Sánchez Ventura (the best known chronicler of the events of Garabandal), who left us this account:
Around three o'clock in the afternoon, [...] Clemente who was not in ecstasy [...] raised his hand and said: "Look at the sun." We all looked up and could see a white disc, like silver, it did not hurt the eyes. The sun was spinning and changing color, and we were not dazzled at all nor did we feel any discomfort.
[...] The phenomenon occurred, but could not be seen by all in the same way, and some did not see anything.
[...] Many contemplated the phenomenon of the sun turned into a silver moon, without being dazzled, while others saw it rotating, others saw it rotating and also increasing in size.
[Francisco Sánchez Ventura, Las apariciones en el Palmar de Troya, Editorial Círculo, Zaragoza, 1970, pp. 78-80]
On 15 May 1970, 40,000 pilgrims flocked to Palmar de Troya for a day of prayer, asked exactly one month before, by the alleged apparition, through the "seer" Clemente [cf. El Palmar de Troya. Mensajes sobrenaturales trasmitidos a Clemente Domínguez Gómez (with a foreword by Gerardo R. Alfaro), Difusora Mariana Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1976, p. 78].
Let’s read the account of the chronicler Joaquín Gómez Burón:
Around four in the afternoon, when the prayers of thousands and thousands of people were starting, led by the voice of Manuel Alonso [the closest collaborator of Clemente; he was number two of the Palmarian Church until the death of Clemente in 2005, when he succeeded him as pope under the name of Peter II], which came through a powerful loudspeaker, the sun began to emit colored flashes and moving as if it revolved around an imaginary axis. The rays did not damage the view of those present who could contemplate it, above, without any effort.
[...] However, not all present were able to witness this spectacle, some even laughed at the astonished gaze of the others.
[...] It 's hard to find a regular visitor of Palmar who has not witnessed the phenomena.
[...] It seems that Clemente Domínguez favours solar wonders [...] even many miles away, in his apostolic journeys, in Europe and in the Americas.
[Joaquín Gómez Burón, El enigma de el Palmar de Troya, Editorial Personas, Barcelona, 1976, pp. 123-126]
The reality, apparently, is another: when Clemente was present, there were always faithful who spontaneously looked at the sun in search of wonders, until the time came when the solar light (being neither so strong that it could not be sustained, nor so weak that it could not give reactions), caused the well-known neurophysiological effects on the retina.
About this same subject, you can also see the page "Miracles of the Sun": Optical and Technical Effects (Part 1) containing, in particular, references to critical studies by Prof. Auguste Meessen of the Catholic University of Leuven.
The Healings of Clemente
The Alcaparrosa, the spot of the "apparitions" of Palmar de Troya. In the picture you can clearly see the wall erected by Clemente around what had become his personal fief. On the right, the basilica of the Palmarian schismatic Church
In 1972 (using a large amount of money given to him by an elderly baroness from Madrid, a follower of his) Clemente bought and fenced with a perimeter wall the extensive agricultural land of the Alcaparrosa, where from the beginning the apparitions of Palmar de Troya took place [cf. M. M. Molina, Los Secretos del Palmar de Troya. Historia de una herjía, Arcopress, Córdoba, 2006, pp. 72-77].
In September of that year, he said that Our Lady asked that a well be dug in the Alcaparrosa. After months of failed drillings, a water table was found, at last, on March 7, 1973 [cf. El Palmar de Troya. Mensajes sobrenaturales trasmitidos a Clemente Domínguez Gómez (with a foreword by Gerardo R. Alfaro), Difusora Mariana Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1976, pp. 363-364].
The sick flocked and there were several healings, apparently:
There have been several miraculous healings attributed to the water from the well of Palmar.
[...] Santana Angeles, from Brenes, had an infected ulcer on the leg for more than five years. She did not follow any treatment from the doctor, who had confessed to not know what medicine to prescribe to her, since all were useless. In fact the patient was diabetic, and this prevented the wound from healing. Palmar water on the ulcer, only water and, within four days, no trace of the illness.
Rosario Salar Delgado, from Seville, had for many years a leg completely useless. She went to Palmar de Troya on 15 August 1973, to ask for the healing of a family member, not thinking about her illness because she was resigned to ending her days that way. After drinking the well water, while attending the celebration of the Holy Mass, she felt her leg alive and realized to be able to perfectly move it, because she was miraculously healed.
To José Vázquez Martínez, from Monfort de Lemos (Lugo), a cancer which he had in the stomach disappeared. The doctor, a specialist from Orense, had given him only 15 days to live.
[Joaquín Gómez Burón, El enigma de el Palmar de Troya, Editorial Personas, Barcelona, 1976, p. 88]
However, there can be a great distance between appearance and reality.
In 2013 the Pontifical Commission of Inquiry on Medjugorje asked the Medical Council working at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to examine "… five cases of alleged miraculous healing that occurred in Medjugorje. Of these, only four were examined and only two were discussed because they were accompanied by medical documentation and medical records. [...] These are very well-known cases among the so-called "Medjugorians" and considered as real miracles…. [David Murgia, Processo a Medjugorje, Rubbettino, 2021, p. 203].
Commission documents give the outcome of the examination results:
As is clear from the minutes of the Council reported below, it gave a negative verdict for both cases.
[Appendix II - 11 October 2013 Proceedings, in David Murgia, Processo a Medjugorje, cit., p. 225]
The editor who published the commission proceedings, Medjugorje supporter David Murgia, comments:
Therefore no miraculous healing. The negative opinion is clear and without appeal.
Peace, Fervor and Conversions
Ideas, feelings, emotions, beliefs possess in crowds a contagious power, as intense as that of microbes.
[Gustave Le Bon, Psicologia delle folle ("Psychology Of Crowds"), Tea, Milan, 2008, p. 160]
The ineffable sense of peace that a certain number of pilgrims claim to feel in Medjugorje is actually a contagious psychological cliché.
Francisco Sánchez Ventura spoke of the "peace of mind felt at Garabandal" [F. Sánchez Ventura, The Apparitions of Garabandal, San Miguel Publishing, Detroit, 1970, p. 144].
The same author wrote, speaking of Palmar de Troya:
The fruits of the phenomena to which I had occasion to witness [...] were, in essence, fruits of eternal life, which led, as a result, to a radical change of life and customs for many souls.
[Francisco Sánchez Ventura, Las apariciones en el Palmar de Troya, Editorial Círculo, Zaragoza, 1970, p. 53]
Here's how Felix Arana (formerly a religious of the schismatic Palmarian Church, which he left) described his arrival at Palmar de Troya:
I saw so many people who prayed with an amazing attention.
[Manuel M. Molina, Los Secretos del Palmar de Troya. Historia de una herjía, Arcopress, Córdoba, 2006, p. 85]
On 15 April 1972 three hundred followers of Clemente signed a letter of Manuel Alonso Corral (as mentioned, the closest collaborator of Clemente himself) addressed to the Archbishop of Seville, by whom they feel "persecuted" because of his opposition to the phenomenon:
At Palmar the penitential rosary with the Lord's Prayer, the Way of the Cross and the traditional rosary, usually of 15 mysteries, are daily recited with the greatest fervor, and reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to the Holy Face, and to our beloved Mother, the Blessed Virgin, are made. Cardinal, the conversions that have occurred in Palmar are numerous and solid.
[Cesar de la Lama, El Palmar de Troya. Milagro S.A., Efe Ediciones, Madrid, 1976, pp. 193-194]
A strange love for the spirituality that did not stop them from threatening the Archbishop:
Christ will be terrible towards those who attack His Divine Mother who appears in El Palmar.
[Ibid., p. 195]
Just as in Medjugorje, where Ivan reported on 21 June 1983, in a letter to Bishop Žanić, a message addressed to him:
If he does not convert or corrects himself, my judgement and the judgement of my Son Jesus await him.
[Cfr. Ogledalo Pravde. Biskupski ordinarijat u Mostaru o navodnim ukazanjima i porukama u Međugorju (The Diocesan Curia of Mostar on The Alleged Apparitions and Messages of Medjugorje), Mostar, 2001, p. 89 and René Laurentin, Message et pédagogie de Marie a Medjugorje. Corpus chronologique des messages, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1988, p. 312. English edition: Messages and Teachings of Mary at Medjugorje. Chronological Corpus of the Messages, Riehle Foundation, 1988]
Published on 2 July 2011. Updated on 13 March 2022.
Copyright © Marco Corvaglia. All rights reserved