Book Reviews2 Holy Mysteries! 12 Investigations into Extraordinary Cases

A few weeks ago while making the circle around our block, a friendly neighbor lady synched up with the snail’s pace my 7-year-old daughter and I were keeping. We made friendly conversation, Evie contributing bits and pieces in the form of loose associations for which kindergarteners are renowned.

Our kindly and staunchly Bible-believing neighbor lady was delighted - particularly by Evie’s reference to a kids movie she’d been watching about St. Paul of Tarsus, furthering Catholic and Protestant relations the world over - and starting asking her the sweet, leading questions that only a former preschool teacher could ask.

“What do you think it will be like to meet Jesus one day? Do you think there will be colors and warm light like these people describe in their experiences of coming back to life?”

Evie nodded her head solemnly before brightening: “You could ask my mom’s friend, her baby was dead but he came back to life!”

Neighbor lady shot me a questioning look and I nodded.

“It’s true, but now he’s a healthy elementary schooler. He was stillborn and without a heartbeat for 61 minutes. His mom started asking Archbishop Fulton Sheen - ever heard of him? He was on prime time TV in the ‘50s. No? Anyway, she was asking him for his prayers the whole way to the hospital and then…yeah, they got his heart going and he came back to life. His case is actually at the Vatican now as part of the examination of evidence for the Cause of Fulton Sheen for sainthood.”

Neighbor lady’s eyes both widened and glazed over simultaneously, and I knew in that moment that any common ground we’d achieved by our devotion to St. Paul had been nuked.

And I realized in that encounter how very little contact much of the Church has in this day and age with the obviously supernatural. Divine intervention and miraculous healings? Sure, things like that happened all the time back in the olden days, in biblical times. But in 2021? God isn’t exactly in the  miracle business anymore…

Or is He?

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The fascinating book by Sophie de Mullenheim, newly translated from French to English, Holy Mysteries! 12 Investigations into Extraordinary Cases makes a compelling case for the reality that He very much is.

The sturdy hardcover, comprising a dozen chapters, lays out a mystery or miraculous occurrence as the centerpiece of each chapter, drawing in relevant stories and occurrences to flesh out the concepts. In the chapter on the Shroud of Turin, a side panel offers a brief primer on carbon dating. In the fascinating account of the miraculous host of Lanciano, the reader learns that the Eucharistic miracle - dating back to a skeptical celebration of the Mass by a questioning priest in the 8th century - has been examined and found “without explanation” by both the WHO and the UN, neither of which could refute the existence of living human heart tissue still encased within the more than 1,000-year-old monstrance.

Packed with more familiar and fantastical stories that range from the topic of who “painted” the beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the omen-bearing liquefaction - or not - of the blood of St. Januarius, to the surprisingly supple and silken skin of St. Teresa of Avila at her exhumation, nearly a year after her death and burial, this book has become a decisive house favorite.

Bonus? The kids don’t even seem to realize they’re reading a religious book, though it is deeply faithful and surprisingly edifying, even for adults. Because we, too, dwell in a world which tends to eschew the supernatural in favor of the material. I found myself immersed in wonder over the incorrupt bodies of saints, the inexplicable medical healings wrought at the grotto in Lourdes, and other less familiar accounts which remind me that God is still moving, has never stopped moving, and continues to reveal Himself to His creation, if we have eyes to see.

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And who knows, maybe I’ll lend our copy to the neighbor lady one of these days.

Grab your own copy at Ignatius Press. Suitable for readers ages 8+, depending upon your child’s sensitivity. Engaging and enthralling for older children and adults of all ages.

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