JOHN FAGAN had reconciled himself to death. After seven weeks of dreadful pain, alternating with periods of drifting semiconsciousness brought on by twice-daily doses of morphine, he accepted the end had come. Doctors had long since given up hope. He had had cancer for nearly two years cancer of the stomach penetrating to the colon.
On the afternoon of Saturday March 4, 1967 his local doctor, Dr Archibald Macdonald, had told Mrs Mary Fagan her husband wouldn't survive the weekend. John had been unable to eat anything for those seven weeks and now his stomach was succumbing completely to the cancer.
The weekend dragged on. On the Sunday night John told his wife he was resigned to the inevitable. The end was clearly near, and she sat up at his bedside all that night in their Easterhouse, Glasgow home. She prayed, as other members of the Blessed John Ogilvie parish had prayed for months, that her husband would receive a miraculous cure through the Scottish martyr's intercession before God.
At 6 o'clock on the Monday morning, she could find no sign of life. Her husband was propped up on pillows -at five stones in weight his hones were protruding from his skin — but there was no sign of a pulse. breathing, or heartbeat.
She sat on at the bedside. At about 9 am she was startled to hear John call her name. "I'm
hungry," he told her. Shortly afterwards, John was eating a boiled egg. Dr Macdonald came to the door and asked Mrs Fagan — "Is he gone?" When told Mr Fagan was not only alive but eating an egg he was visibly shaken.
A little later he told Mary "I am not of your religion. but if you told me right now your husband had been to Lourdes, I would say this was definitely a miracle." Oddly enough, in all the excitement, it was only then she realised that this was what had happened.
John went on to make a full recovery and now, after nearly nine years of exhaustive investigation, the Vatican has accepted that the cure was miraculous and that it was brought about by the intercession of Blessed John Ogilvie.
The Roman Catholic Church doesn't accept miracles easily. The first stages of the investigation involved the setting up of a medical panel of three — Doctors Andrew Curran, Aloysius Dunn and John Fitzsimons. Their task was not to prove the miracle, but disprove it.
"They were brought in to be sceptical," says Fr Thomas Reilly, Joint Vice-Postulator (promoter) of the Cause for Canonisation and parish priest of the Blessed John Ogilvie
parish. "They were asked to ex
hlore all possibilities. no matter ow remote. They scrutinised all documents and medical records, interviewed all witnesses, and sought top-level consultants' opinions. "The final verdict was clear: there was no natural explanation:" One of those whose opinions were sought was a specialist in gastroenterology, Dr James P. A. McManus of Edinburgh University, who is now Professor of Medicine at Laval University, Quebec.
His report, submitted in 1972 to the Roman Catholic authorities, tells how hope was given up for Mr Fagan, who had a huge tumour in his stomach. It says the cancer took its normal and deadly course until "in March 1967 he developed a dramatic, abrupt and 'uninterrupted improvement with return to full health."
An operation had revealed a huge cancer tumour in Mr Fagan's stomach, "grossly ulcerated" invading the colon and the lymphatic channels. Further treatment was seen as useless and he had been given only up to 18 months at most to live, perhaps as few as six. A checker at Glasgow docks, he had to give up work as abdominal pain developed and in
December 1966 Mrs Fagan was told that her husband was dying. In January he entered a "moribund" or final state. His wife pinned a medal of Blessed Ogilvie to his chest.
At the same time parish groups and schoolchildren. led by their parish clergy, began praying to Blessed Ogilvie that Mr Fagan would be spared through his intercession. John Fagan's six children and their families also prayed to the Scottish martyr that he might recover. The recovery took place in March, when all medical hope had ceased.
Last month, as reported in the Catholic Herald, Pope Paul ratified the cure was a sign from heaven and a message that was difficult to mistake. John Ogilvie is in heaven and the world should know.