'I heard a voice ... and I was healed' - Nun (78) makes miracle recovery at Lourdes
A nun whose recovery from decades of debilitating back pain was declared a miracle by the Catholic Church has spoken about the day she stood up, removed a brace from her gnarled foot and walked normally.
For half her life, Bernadette Moriau (78) had suffered from acute sciatic nerve trouble that made it hard to walk, but she recovered suddenly after a trip in 2008 to the grotto and springwater shrine at Lourdes in south-west France.
The disappearance of the excruciating nerve pinch was described last weekend by her local bishop as the 70th miracle to occur at the shrine, a site that has attracted millions of pilgrims since a peasant girl said she saw the Virgin Mary there in 1858.
Sr Moriau recounted how, a few days after her return from Lourdes in July 2008, she felt an overwhelming sense of well-being.
She removed a brace and straightened her foot that had been twisted sideways for years, and began to walk normally.
"I heard a voice saying 'remove the apparatus'," she told reporters. "In an act of faith I took it off.
"To my great surprise, when I took away the brace and splints my foot was straightened out and I could move without feeling any pain. I just burst into tears.
"I cried a lot because sometimes we are overwhelmed by what happens to us.
"The following day, I walked five kilometres in the forest with my sister-in-law."
The frail, white-haired nun said she stopped taking the morphine she had been using in large doses for years, and felt no pain nor any of the side-effects that often accompany the sudden withdrawal of the painkiller.
Around 200 million people, mostly Catholic pilgrims, have visited Lourdes, a small town at the foot of the Pyrenees, since Bernadette Soubirous all- egedly met the Virgin Mary while rummaging for bones and dead wood more than 150 years ago.
Many travel to the shrine in the hope of being healed of often life-threatening ailments.