Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 74(1) February 2024

Book Reviews

The Best Ever CTS Pamphlet: I met a Miracle:The Story of Jack Traynor.
By Rev Patrick O’Connor. Missionary of St Columban

Reviewed by Dr Robert Hardie

Newspaper cuttingThe whole of this very brief pamphlet should really be read. While it is a little normally too long for a journal like the CMQ, it is easily read in under an hour (depending on interruptions!) and is available in this journal.

At a time when medical science is threatened by being overrun and almost consumed by brilliant technology, it is refreshing to read a little booklet on a miraculous healing described purely on objective ‘old fashioned’ clinical evidence.

Jack Traynor sustained dreadful machine gun injuries during the Gallipoli landing of 1915.

Despite the intervention of numerous surgeons, including Sir Frederick Treves at the base hospital in Alexandria, who attempted to repair the extensive damage to his right brachial plexus, his right arm remained limp and useless. He developed epilepsy as a consequence to his head wound and subsequent trepanning to alleviate the epilepsy left him with a hole in his skull covered by a silver metal plate which was apparently visible thorough the hole in his scalp. In addition, this procedure rendered him unable to walk and confined him to a ‘bed and wheelchair’ existence. He was in receipt of 100% war pension.

Fr Patrick O’Connor transcribed a wonderful interview with Jack several years after Jack had managed against all advice to take part in a Liverpool diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes in 1923. There he had received a complete and instantaneous cure after insisting that he should be taken repeatedly to the Baths.

On the night of his cure he awoke as the clock struck midnight. Realising he was cured he decided he must go and thank Our Lady. Jack knew the nurses (brancardiers) would not let him do that. So he had to run past them. The nurses knew he could not run, and so, in an attempt to stop him they gave chase. But held back as he approached the grotto. He knelt, prayed and said “thank you”.

He is not officially included in the List of Cures in Lourdes but this is probably due to the enormous strain on the medical services at the Bureau in the decade after the First World War, known as ‘Lourdes fatigue’, when good accurate documentation was sadly lacking. At that time up to 200 cures a year were being claimed.

From a hopeless existence, and due to be admitted to the Mossley Hill Hospital for Incurables just before his trip to Lourdes, Jack returned to life as the bread winner of his enlarging family doing heavy manual work delivering coal from the nearby colliery.

This is a wonderful little account essentially by Jack on his major unofficial yet well documented Lourdes miracle. Rather than seeing miracles and healings from the ‘outside in’ as we as health staff have generally always done, this is a treasure of an ‘inside out’ account.

This really is a must read and it is available on this CMQ website