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The spiritual significance of the apparitions in Medjugorje is of course monumental and, in many ways, self-evident. However, few people may know how much Medjugorje means on a scientific and academic level, especially in regard to the study of mysticism and supernatural phenomena. Medjugorje’s implications, largely due to the timely significance of the apparitions, constitute a breakthrough for the study of mystical experience...............................
Moreover, Dr. Luigi Frigerio, another member of the Italian team, explained that the results combined with neurological testing, which determined that the visionaries were not only awake but hyper-awake during their ecstasies, presented a paradox that “cannot be explained naturally, and thus can be only preternatural or supernatural.” Interestingly, even Dr. Stopar reached the same conclusion years earlier, admitting: “I had the impression of coming into contact with a supernatural reality at Medjugorje.”..................
Randall Sullivan relates the story of Dr. Marco Margnelli, an eminent Italian neurophysiologist and an ardent atheist who came to Medjugorje in the summer of 1988 determined to expose the apparitions as a fraud. Margnelli had a well-known history of doubting the validity of Christian mysticism and supernatural phenomena, perhaps most notoriously conveyed in his skepticism toward the stigmata of the Franciscan friar Padre Pio, arguably the twentieth century’s most prominent mystic. An expert in altered states of consciousness, Margnelli conducted an array of medical tests on the Medjugorje visionaries in which he had to conclude that during their daily apparitions the seers did, in fact, enter into “a genuine state of ecstasy” and adding, “we were certainly in the presence of an extraordinary phenomenon.” Dr. Margnelli’s observations have ranged from conducting medical investigations on the seers to personally witnessing miraculous healings and strange occurrences which, admittedly, left him bewildered and deeply shaken. Sullivan relates a sequence of events to which Dr. Margnelli had been a witness at Medjugorje:
“from the ‘synchronous movements’ of the visionaries [during apparitions] to the apparently miraculous healing of a woman with leukemia. What had affected him most deeply were the birds: During the late afternoon, they would gather in the trees outside the rectory where the seers shared their apparitions, chirping and cooing and calling by the hundreds, at times deafeningly loud, until ‘they suddenly and simultaneously all go silent as soon as the apparition begins.’ This ‘absolute silence of the birds’ haunted him, the doctor admitted.”
Thus, a “few weeks after returning to Milan, Dr. Margnelli became a practicing Catholic.”
The spiritual significance of the apparitions in Medjugorje is of course monumental and, in many ways, self-evident. However, few people may know how much Medjugorje means on a scientific and academic level, especially in regard to the study of mysticism and supernatural phenomena. Medjugorje’s implications, largely due to the timely significance of the apparitions, constitute a breakthrough for the study of mystical experience. In Medjugorje, the findings of contemporary doctors and scientists, based on knowledge of medical investigations not available to previous visionary and apparitional encounters, do offer significant insights concerning the possible mechanisms and probabilities of past mystical experiences. Whether one chooses to believe in the spiritual content behind the phenomenon—that the Virgin Mary is appearing—does, however, still constitute (and require) an act of faith. But since so much evidence is offered for the possibility, excluding all other alternative scientific explanations, then the visionaries’ claims must be given a fair chance. Not to do so could easily constitute an inverse reflection of dogmatic fundamentalism (in rationalist thought) over the findings of objective scientific and medical studies. The mentality of presumptuous skepticism has been prominent among many modern and postmodern thinkers denying the reported mystical experiences of late-medieval and early-modern Christians. However, the inclusion of modern science and technology in investigating contemporary mystical phenomena no longer makes such unexamined presuppositions universally agreeable, undermining their rash and unscientific conclusions.