"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease."Thomas A. Eddison(1847 - 1931)

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Miracles with Fire

In his book “The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism”, Herbert Thurston gives numerous examples of Saints who possessed the ability to be invulnerable to fire.  The most famous was St. Francis of Paula who not only held burning embers in his hands without being harmed but at his canonization hearings in 1519 eight eyewitnesses testified that they had seen him walk unharmed through roaring flames of a furnace to repair one of the furnaces broken walls.

In the Old Testament the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who refused to worship the status of King Nebuchadnezzar after he captured Jerusalem.  Nebuchadnezzar ordered them thrown into a furnace so “exceedingly hot” that the flames even burned up the men who threw them in.  However, because of their faith, they survived the fire unscathed and came out with their hair unsinged, their clothing unharmed, and not even the smell of fire upon them.

Back to the kahunas of Hawaii and although the kahunas have not been known to walk through furnaces they can stroll over burning lava without being harmed.  Brigham told of meeting three kahunas who promised to perform their feat for him and followed them on a trek to a lava flow near the erupting Kilauea.  They also told him that they could confer their fire immunity on him.  Brigham bravely agreed.  A 150 foot wide lava flow that had cooled enough to support their weight, but was so hot that patches of incandescence still coursed through its surface was chosen for the presentation. Brigham watched as the kahunas took off their sandals and started to recite the lengthy prayers necessary to protect them as they strolled out onto the barely hardened molten rock.    As Brigham was faced with the baking heat of the lava he had second and even third thoughts. “The upshot of the matter was that I sat tight and refused to take off my boots,” Brigham wrote in his account of the incident.  After they finished invoking the gods, the oldest kahuna scampered out onto the lava and crossed the 150 feet without harm.  Impressed Brigham stood up to watch the next kahuna, only to be given a shove that forced him to break into a run to keep from falling face first onto the incandescent rock.  And RUN Brigham did.  When he reached higher ground on the other side he discovered that one of his boots had burned off and his socks were on fire.  Miraculously his feet were completely unharmed.  The kahunas had also suffered no harm and were rolling in laughter at Brigham’s shock.  “I laughed too” wrote Brigham “I was never so relieved in my life as I was to find that I was safe.  There is little more that I can tell of this experience.  I had a sensation of intense heat on my face and body, but almost no sensation on my feet.”

The convulsionaires also occasionally displayed complete immunity to fire.  The two most famous were Marie Sonnet and Gabrielle Moler.  Sonnet stretched herself on two chairs over a blazing fire and remained there for half an hour.  Neither she nor her clothing showed any ill effects.  In another instance she sat with her feet in a brazier full of burning coals.  As with Brigham, her shoes and stockings burned off, but her feet were unharmed.  Gabrielle Moler’s exploits were even more dumfounding.  In addition to being impervious to the thrusts of swords and blows delivered by a shovel, she could stick her head into a roaring hearth fire an dhold it there without suffering any injury.  Eyewitnesses report that afterward her clothing was so hot it could barely be touched, yet her hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows were never so much as singed.

King Louis XV also tried to purge another movement in France, the unabashedly Protestant Huguenots from the valley of Cévennes and known as the Camisards.  In an official report sent to Rome, one of the persecutors, a prior named Abbé du Chayla, complained that no matter what he did, he could not succeed in harming the Camisards.  When he ordered them shot, the musket balls, would be found flattened between their clothing and their skin.  When he closed their hands upon burning coals, they were not harmed, and when he wrapped them head to toe in cotton soaked in oil and set them on fire, they did not burn.  Claris, the Camisard leader, ordered that a pyre be built and then climbed to the top of it to deliver an ecstatic speech.  In the presence of six hundred witnesses he ordered the pyre be set on fire and continued to rant as the flames rose above his head.  After the pyre was completely consumed, Claris remained, unharmed and with no mark of the fire on his hair or clothing.  The head of the French troops sent to subdue the Camisards, a colonel named Jean Cavalier, was later exiled to England wrote a book on the event in 1707 entitled “A Cry from the Desert.”  As for Abbé du Chayla, he was eventually murdered by the Camisards during a retaliatory raid.  Unlike some of them, he possessed no special invulnerability.

When Bernadette of Lourdes was in ecstasy she was also impervious to fire.  According to witnesses, on one occasion her hand dropped so close to a burning candle while she was in trance that the flames licked around her fingers.  One of the individuals present was Dr Dozous, the municipal physician of Lourdes.  Dozous timed the event and noted that it was a full ten minutes before she came out of trance and removed her hand.  He later wrote “I saw it with my own eyes.  But I swear, if anyone had tried to make me believe such a story I would have laughed them to scorn.”

On September 7, 1871 the New York Herald reported that Nathan Coker, an elder Negro blacksmith living in Easton, Maryland, could handle red-hot metal without being harmed.  In the presence of a committee that included several doctors, he heated an iron shovel until it was incandescent and then held it against the soles of his feet until it was cool.  He also licked the edge of the red hot shovel and poured melted lead shot in his mouth, allowing it to run over his teeth and gums until it solidified.  After each of these feats the doctors examined him and found no trace of injury.

K. R. Wissen, a New York physician was on a hunting trip in 1927 in the Tennessee mountains when he encountered a twelve-year-old boy who was similarly impervious.  Wissen watched as the boy handled red-hot irons out of a fireplace with impunity.  The boy told Wissen he had discovered his ability by accident when he picked up a red-hot horseshow in his uncle’s blacksmith shop. 

A couple of closing fire miracles:

-the pit of flaming embers the Grosvenors watched Mohotty walk through was twenty feet long and measured 1328 degrees Fahrenheit on the National Geographic team’s thermometers.

- In the May 1959 issue of the Atlantic Monthly Dr Leonard Feinberg of the University of Illinois reports witnessing another Ceylonese fire-walking ritual during which the natives carried red-hot iron pots on their heads without being harmed. 

-In an article in Psychiatric Quarterly, psychiatrist Berthold Schwarz reports watching Appalachian Pentecostals hold their hands in an acetylene flame without being harmed