Cover image for The miracle detective : an investigation of holy visions
The miracle detective : an investigation of holy visions
Sullivan, Randall.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
450 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BT650 .S85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BT650 .S85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BT650 .S85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BT650 .S85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BT650 .S85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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In a tiny, dilapidated trailer in northeastern Oregon, a young Mexican woman saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in an ordinary landscape painting hanging on her bedroom wall. After being met with skepticism from the local parish, the Catholic diocese officially placed the matter "under investigation." Investigative journalist Randall Sullivan wanted to know how exactly one might conduct the official inquiry into such an incident and set off to interview "the miracle detectives." These were the theologians, historians, and postulators from the Sacred Congregation of the Causes for Saints who were charged by the Vatican with testing the miraculous and judging the holy. What Sullivan didn't know was that his own investigation would lead from Vatican City in Rome to the tiny village of Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where six visionaries have been receiving apparitions of the Virgin Mary. These raptures have been the subject of more medical and scientific examination than any other purported supernatural event ever recorded. An examination of the longest-running Marian apparitions in history, and the author's own faith and beliefs as he himself becomes a miracle detective, are at the heart of Randall Sullivan's stunning new book, The Miracle Detective.

Author Notes

Randall Sullivan is a contributing editor to both Rolling Stone and Men's Journal

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In 1994, Sullivan, a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and Men'sournal, learned about a vision of Mary appearing in an Oregon trailer and decided he might like to write about how the Catholic Church investigates such sightings. What he didn't know was that his reporting would turn into a personal quest leading him to Medjugorie, where six young seers see visions on the backdrop of the Bosnian war; to Scottsdale, Arizona, a seemingly unlikely spot for visionaries but the home of a group of them nonetheless; and to Rome, where Sullivan has brushes with both the pope and the devil. If what Sullivan writes about is astounding--sightings, healings, possession--the breadth and depth of his work is rather astonishing as well. This is a stunning mix of the personal and the historic, interviews and experiences, with Sullivan incredibly nimble at making the worlds overlap--in a way, just as visionaries do. He combines his own questions and doubts--even his anguish over the lives of those who claim to see Mary--with the history that is being played out at the time, especially the war in Bosnia, about which he goes into incredible, painful detail. His writing draws readers into his search for answers, and soon we find ourselves sharing his excitement, depression, and anger. Does he find his answers? Well, as one priest puts it, true belief is a decision. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

In what often reads like a spiritual whodunit, author and Rolling Stone contributing editor Sullivan takes readers on a journey into the labyrinthine world of religious apparitions and miracle investigations. Sullivan's fascination with the subject began in 1994 when he learned of a spiritual phenomenon in his own backyard-the reported apparition of the Virgin Mary in a rundown trailer in eastern Oregon. Intrigued, he did some cursory research about such occurrences and proposed to his publisher to do a book on "miracle detectives." He began in Rome, where he met with Catholic Church officials charged with investigating such phenomena, and proceeded to the village of Medjugorje in the former Yugoslavia, where the Virgin reportedly first appeared to six young people in 1981. It was in Medjugorje that Sullivan encountered an unexpected turn in his investigation-a personal religious experience in which a mysterious young woman came to his aid as he made a pilgrimage up the mountain of Krizevac. This and his subsequent spiritual encounters make for an interesting subplot as Sullivan continues his quest to explain the unexplainable, though he never fully discloses the details of where those experiences led him. Much has been written about Marian apparitions, particularly those at Medjugorje, but The Miracle Detective may well emerge as one of the most comprehensive and engaging modern works on the subject. Well told and expertly researched, Sullivan's book should appeal to skeptics and believers alike. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A contributing editor for Rolling Stone and Men's Journal, Sullivan (The Price of Experience) presents a wide-ranging work about apparitions of the Virgin Mary. He investigates several of these personally, visiting the sites and interviewing the seers and other principals. Most notably, he examines sightings in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where six teenagers claim to have received messages from the Virgin Mary. In addition to providing a very detailed account of the first Medjugorje sightings, Sullivan includes interviews with Vatican officials charged with determining the authenticity of this event, a short history of religion in the Balkans, a heartrending look at that region during the wars of the 1990s, and descriptions of the effects of his investigations on his own spiritual life. His writing is very descriptive, and the many characters he encounters are well drawn. He provides an annotated list of sources for the Medjugorje section but does not, for the most part, tie the details he gives to specific sources. Sullivan, who treads the path between true believer and outright denier, raises thoughtful, informed questions about the phenomena he studies. Anyone with an interest in Marian apparitions should read this book. Recommended for public and seminary libraries.-Stephen Joseph, Butler Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Part I Signs and Wondersp. 1
Part II Between the Mountainsp. 63
Part III Testing the Spiritp. 297
Sourcesp. 443
Acknowledgmentsp. 447