My daughter was diagnosed with Perthes yesterday. It’s a condition where blood doesn’t get to the hip bone and so it doesn’t grow, which causes all kinds of problems. She’s been having a lot of difficulty walking recently but the doctor says its very treatable and for this we are grateful.
Her condition reminded me of a few stories from the past that I’ve read recently. The first is quoted in Jane Shaw’s Miracles in Enlightenment England.
On the evening of 26 November 1693, a thirteen-year-old lame girl named Marie Maillard was instantly healed while she was reading the Bible. It was a day when she had been especially reminded of her lameness because local boys had teased her and thrown dirt at her as she had been walking home. She had just eaten supper and was reading the second chapter of Mark, ‘where is related the cure of the man sick of the Palsy’, when her thigh snapped ‘just as the words were out of my mouth, and I said, Madam, I am cured.’ She ran about and showed her perfectly upright body and now even hips to Madame Renee de Laulan, the French gentlewoman with whom she lived.
Shaw then tells of how this story was used and debated at the time, but I couldn’t help thinking of the poor girl being teased and what life might have been like for my daughter if she had been born many years ago.
I thought also of a story from Samuel Woolley’s dairy form 1855. He had been giving many blessing while staying in Centerville, Delaware, in route home from a mission in India (he was trying to get the rest of the money to get home). He reported a number of healings that generated interest in the area and was requested the bless one Davis Fury who had a dislocated hip bone from an accident with a horse. Fury had “fell away to nothing but skin and bone.” Woolley blessed the boy under the promise that he and his mother would be baptized. They began blessing the boy daily and Woolley reported that the boy was getting better. He then went on a week’s trip into Pennsylvania and when he came back there was a problem. The local presiding elder had gone to bless Fury but then refused saying that his progress wasn’t good enough, which he said meant the boy and his mother didn’t have enough faith. Woolley was unhappy with the presiding elder but from then on Woolley continued to mention visiting the family but never recorded the boy’s condition. One assumes that Fury did not get better; neither he nor his mother got baptized.
In my work on Mormonism in the area, I’ve found a number of cases of disappointed miraculous expectations but the Mormons usually provide what they see as explanations of divine providence nonetheless. This story, however, gets no explanation; the most bitter kind of disappointment.
To this point I’ve found it difficult to weave this story into my analysis. There are just so many layers and yesterday’s events added one more.