Elsewhere, I have told the extraordinary story of a young Ceylonese boy who was healed twice by the Virgin of Madou. For over three hundred years, Mary has attracted thousands of Tamils and Singhalese to this small location within the Diocese of Jaffna, in Sri Lanka, near a marsh (madou) which has become famous. The Oblates arrived there in 1847. With time, they erected a most beautiful church dedicated to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.

At Lourdes, the Immaculate Mother gave rise to a source of water for physical healing. At Madou, the Virgin of the Rosary conferred on the soil a special power to heal snake bites. It happens regularly that a mortally poisonous serpent or viper may attack the bare feet of the poor. Then the victim, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, or Moslem, has only to swallow, or apply to the wound, a bit of dirt from Madou, and that person will survive.

Another healing is the subject of the present story. Fathers Alfred Jaendel, missionary in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for more than fifty years, and Henry Jourdain, later to become bishop of Jafna, were the astonished witnesses.


A cry in the night
The event took place in July, 1855, in the small mission of Accarai-Patou. A Mr. Parker, Protestant Inspector from the Government, and moreover a skeptic, came to visit the village school. “Since I had some responsibility for this institution,” wrote Father Jaendel, “ I went there accompanied by Father Joulin. That evening we began to discuss the marvelous attributes of the soil from Madou. Father was saying that recently a young man, after being bitten by a viper, had taken some of that soil and found himself healed. At the same time, another individual also bitten, had refused to take any of the soil and died. ‘To believe that, I’d have to see it.’ was the Inspector’s doubtful reply.

“All of a sudden a horrible cry came from in front of the church. We rushed to the scene. Soosaiappu, the man who cooks for me, was rolling in terrible convulsions: he had just been bitten by a cobra, the most poisonous of snakes. He was carried into my house. He was placed on the bed and the usual medications at hand were applied. We were so preoccupied that we never even thought of the soil of Madou which we had been discussing earlier. It seemed like the end, and Father Jourdain was preparing to administer Extreme Unction to the dying man , when a group of Christians who had rushed over from the village, began to shout ‘Swami, we have to give him dirt from Madou.’ Hurriedly, a bit of that soil was mixed with water and a few drops were placed in the sick man’s mouth. We knelt and began to recite the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. Slowly Soosaiappu opened his eyes, sat up, and vomited a throat full of black blood. He asked for something to drink. One hour later, he was perfectly healed. All this happened before the very eyes of our Inspector of Schools.”