The Vatican has declared the 1999 sudden recovery of a Colorado Springs boy a miracle. The declaration places a German nun, who is considered responsible for the healing, on the path to sainthood.
Luke Burgie, now 18 years old, was only four when he suddenly developed a severe gastrointestinal condition in 1998, which doctors couldn't explain or offer any remedies for. For the next six months, he suffered violent episodes of diarrhea eight to 10 times a day; he stopped growing and started wasting away.
"He was the sickest child or person I'd ever been around," Jan Burgie, his mother, said.
"His doctors tried different antibiotics, diets and quite a few tests," she added to NY Daily News. "But they couldn't figure out what was wrong."
The Denver Post revealed that what followed was a miracle, which Pope Francis officially recognized shortly after he was elected as leader of the Roman Catholic Church in March.
Two Colorado Spring nuns, Sister Margaret Mary Preister and the late Sister Evangeline Spenner, began praying to Mother Theresia Bonzel, who founded the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Olpe, Germany, in 1863 and died in 1905, to intercede on behalf of the hopelessly sick boy.
The doctors, who were at a complete loss on what to do, began suspecting that Luke was suffering from a tumor in his colon. But before they could begin conducting tests, his illness suddenly vanished on Feb. 22, 1999 – right after Spenner and Preister concluded their nine-day prayer session to Mother Bonzel.
"We were just an ordinary family – not ultra-holy," Burgie, who is a yoga instructor, revealed.
Following the boy's sudden recovery, Vatican officials and medical experts investigated the case to try and find out what had caused the mysterious sickness but no cause was ever found.
"They wanted to make sure we weren't crazy," Burgie said. "I didn't mind."
"I think what would surprise people outside the church is how very dubious investigators are," wrote Journalist Bill Briggs, who investigates supposed supernatural occurrences in his book The Third Miracle. "To examine these claims, they look at hundreds, if not thousands, of medical records and other pieces of evidence. It's the furthest thing from a rubber stamp."
Sister Clarice Gentrup of Mother Bonzel's order said that she was very pleased that the Vatican has concluded that what happened in 1999 was a miracle.
"We were hoping for word at Easter," Gentrup said of Luke's case. "We were very pleased when Pope Francis approved it."
Pope Francis affirmed before Easter that Bonzel was responsible for the miracle.
As for Luke, his mother says that he is self-conscious about what happened and the attention the story has received, but remembers nothing of the sickness or the sudden recovery. He is currently a BMX racer, and is not a practicing Catholic.
"He doesn't want to be known as the kid with diarrhea," Burgie said. "I think it will take him years to see this as a blessing instead of a burden."
Mother Bonzel's benediction ceremony, putting her on the path to sainthood, is scheduled to take place in November.