A miracle is an extraordinary sign[1][2] that signifies the verity of Revelation[3] and the Divine Nature and Messiahship of Jesus Christ,[4] that invites belief in and strengthens faith in Christ,[5] and - for the miracles of Christ recorded in the Gospels - that prefigures the Paschal Mystery.[6] Miracles are not worked to satisfy curiosity or the desire for magic.[7][8] Miracles are also not faith-healing, which is a healing due to natural causes but which is thought to have extraordinary causes.[9] Finally, miracles are not "the miracle of life", "the miracle of the telephone", "the miracle of giving the hungry food", or so forth; these phrases don't refer to actual miracles but merely use hyperbole ("the miracle of...") to emphasize the greatness of something good.[10][11] Miracles should also not be confused with mysticism.

Types of MiraclesEdit

Miracles are scientifically inexplicable and theologically grounded events, and miracles of healing - in addition to being scientifically inexplicable and theologically grounded - are complete healings.[12]

Faith healing, false weeping statues, and artificial acheiropoieta icons are not scientifically inexplicable. Wonders that signify doctrinal errors or are bound up with sin are not theologically grounded.[13]

An example of the latter is occultism: Miracles cannot be performed by spiritism, automatic writing, psychic powers, palm reading, horoscopes, astrology, Onji boards, voodoo, magic, etc.[14]

The sacraments are the greatest miracles[15] and are a part of Revelation.[16] The Eucharist is the supreme miracle[17] - "the miracle of miracles"[18] - the source and summit of all miracles.[19]


According to the theology of St. Thomas Aquintas (Thomism),[20] there are three classes of miracles:[21]

  • First Class: Miracles nature cannot do, such as the Transubstantiation;[22]
  • Second Class: Miracles nature can do but not naturally, such as a resurrection;[23]
  • Third Class: Miracles nature does do but not naturally, such as a cure from leprosy.[24]

Of course, the theologies of the saints are distinct from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.[25]

Discernment of MiraclesEdit

When an event is judged as being authentic by the local bishop, it is a miracle. A miracle conforms completely with the Catholic Faith, for it signifies parts of the Faith and invites belief in and strengthens faith in Christ.[26]

Before being judged as authentic, an event is an alleged miracle or supposed miracle. The bishop, because he has, as the vicar of Christ, the right and duty to judge all alleged extraordinary signs,[27] must discern an event according to the practice of Norme Congregationis.[28]


No one is obligated to believe in miracles,[29] except for those in Revelation[30] - such as the miracles of Moses,[31] Christ,[32]and the Apostles[33] - because Revelation is an obligation and necessity.[34]

Miracles,[35] as well as healing effected by the sacraments,[36] are not a part of Revelation, except for those in Revelation - see above - because Revelation ended with the death of the Apostles.[37][38]

Causes of SaintsEdit

The cases of miracles for beatification and canonization are handled by "the competent whose territory the event took place."[39] Cases of miracles are handled separately from cases of virtues, and are inquired into according to the practice of Dinvinus Perfectionis Magister.[40]


The inquiry into the alleged miracles of saints goes as follows:[41]

33. a) Once the Bishop competent according to norm no. 5b has accepted the petition of the postulator together with a brief but accurate report on the alleged miracle as well as those documents which pertain to the case, he is to ask for the judgment of one or two experts.' b) If he has then decided to instruct a judicial inquiry, he is to examine all the witnesses either personally or through his delegate, according to the norms established above in nos. 15 a, 16-18 and 21-24.
34. a) In the case of a cure from some disease, the Bishop or his delegate is to seek help from a physician, who is to propose questions to the witnesses in order to clarify matters according to necessity and circumstances.' b) If the person healed is still alive, he is to be examined by experts so that the duration of the healing can be ascertained.
35. A transcript of the inquiry together with attached documents is to be sent to the Sacred Congregation according to what is laid down in nos. 29-31.
36. Any solemn celebrations or panegyric speeches about Servants of God whose sanctity of life is still being legitimately examined are prohibited in Churches.' Furthermore, one must also refrain, even outside of Church, from any acts which could mislead the faithful into thinking that the inquiry conducted by the Bishop into the life of the Servant of God and his virtues or martyrdom carries with it the certitude that the Servant of God will be one day canonized.


  2. Ad Catholici Sacerdotii In the natural order, divine miracles suspend for a moment the effect of physical laws, but do not revoke them.
  9. Instruction on Prayers for Healing In the course of the Church's history there have been holy miracle-workers who have performed wondrous healings. The phenomenon was not limited to the Apostolic period; however, the so-called «charism of healing,» about which it seems appropriate to offer some doctrinal clarifications, does not fall within these phenomena of wonder-working. Instead, the present question concerns special prayer meetings organized for the purpose of obtaining wondrous healings among the sick who are present, or prayers of healing after Eucharistic communion for this same purpose...With respect to prayer meetings for obtaining healing, an aim which even if not exclusive is at least influential in their planning, it is appropriate to distinguish between meetings connected to a «charism of healing,» whether real or apparent, and those without such a connection. A possible «charism of healing» can be attributed when the intervention of a specific person or persons, or a specific category of persons (for example, the directors of the group that promotes the meetings) is viewed as determinative for the efficacy of the prayer. If there is no connection with any «charism of healing,» then the celebrations provided in the liturgical books, if they are done with respect for liturgical norms, are obviously licit and often appropriate, as in the case of a Mass pro infirmis. If the celebrations do not respect liturgical law, they lack legitimacy...The «charism of healing» is not attributable to a specific class of faithful. It is quite clear that St. Paul, when referring to various charisms in 1 Corinthians 12, does not attribute the gift of «charisms of healing» to a particular group, whether apostles, prophets, teachers, those who govern, or any other. The logic which governs the distribution of such gifts is quite different: «All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who distributes to each one individually just as the Spirit choses» (1 Cor 12:11). Consequently, in prayer meetings organized for asking for healing, it would be completely arbitrary to attribute a «charism of healing» to any category of participants, for example, to the directors of the group; the only thing to do is to entrust oneself to the free decision of the Holy Spirit, who grants to some a special charism of healing in order to show the power of the grace of the Risen Christ. Yet not even the most intense prayer obtains the healing of all sicknesses. So it is that St. Paul had to learn from the Lord that «my grace is enough for you; my power is made perfect in weakness» (2 Cor 12:9), and that the meaning of the experience of suffering can be that «in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church» (Col 1:24).
  10. Marriam-Webster dictionary: Miracle 2: an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment
  11. Marriam-Webster dictionary: Miracle Drug a drug usually newly discovered that elicits a dramatic response in a patient's condition —called also wonder drug
  12. The Miracle Approved for the Canonization of Blessed Josemaria Escriva The complete cure of the lesions,...very rapid, complete, lasting, and scientifically inexplicable.
  13. Normae Congregationis A glaring error as to the facts...Doctrinal errors that one would attribute to God himself, or to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or the Holy Spirit in their manifestations (taking into account, however, the possibility that the subject may add something by their own activity—even if this is done unconsciously—of some purely human elements to an authentic supernatural revelation, these having nevertheless to remain free from any error in the natural order. Cf. St Ignatius, Spiritual Exercises, n. 336)...An obvious pursuit of monetary gain in relation with the fact...Gravely immoral acts committed by the subject, or his associates, at the time of the facts, or on the occasion of these facts.
  15. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1210 The seven sacraments touch all the stages and all the important moments of Christian life: they give birth and increase, healing and mission to the Christian's life of faith. There is thus a certain resemblance between the stages of natural life and the stages of the spiritual life.
    • Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1212 "The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life..."
  17. Decree on the Gift of an Indulgence during the Year of the Eucharist The greatest of the miracles (cf. Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Office of Readings, Second Reading) and supreme memorial of the Redemption which Our Lord Jesus Christ brought about through his Blood, the Eucharist, as sacrifice and sacrament, faultlessly produces the unity of the Church, sustains her with the power of supernatural grace, bathes her in ineffable joy and provides supernatural assistance to nourish the piety of the faithful and impel them to intensify and indeed to perfect their Christian life.
  18. Canonization of Four New Saints on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, 18 May 2003 (Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar) "...It was His love that invented this miracle of miracles, instituting the Most Holy Sacrament"
  22. Mysterium Fidei We mean the fact that the Eucharist is a very great mystery—in fact, properly speaking and in the words of the Sacred Liturgy, the mystery of faith. "It contains within it," as Leo XIII, Our predecessor of happy memory, very wisely remarked, "all supernatural realities in a remarkable richness and variety of miracles."...this type of presence, which goes beyond the laws of nature and constitutes the greatest miracle of its kind,...Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, in a clear statement on the Eucharistic conversion, has this to say: "Let us be assured that this is not what nature formed but what the blessing has consecrated; and there is greater power in the blessing and in nature, since nature itself is changed through the blessing." To confirm the truth of this mystery, he recounts many of the miracles described in the Sacred Scriptures, including Christ's birth of the Virgin Mary, and then he turns his mind to the work of creation, concluding this way: "Surely the word of Christ, who could make something that did not exist out of nothing, can change things that do exist into something they were not before. For it is no less extraordinary to give new natures to things than it is to change nature."
  25. Theology Today, 40 When it comes to the ‘authentic’ interpretation of the faith, the magisterium plays a role that theology simply cannot take to itself. Theology cannot substitute a judgement coming from the scientific theological community for that of the bishops.
  27. Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum, 28 Let those who have so unfortunately failed in their duty, recall to their minds again and again, that the authority of those whom "the Holy Spirit hath placed as Bishops to rule the Church of God" (Acts xx. 28) is a divine authority. Let them remember that if, as we have seen, those who resist any legitimate authority, resist God, much more impiously do they act who refuse to obey the Bishop, whom God has consecrated with a special character by the exercise of His power.
  29. The Message of Fatima, 121 "An assent of Catholic faith is not due to revelations approved in this way; it is not even possible. These revelations seek rather an assent of human faith in keeping with the requirements of prudence, which puts them before us as probable and credible to piety"
  30. Providentissimus Deus For He Himself Who "obtained authority by miracles, merited belief by authority, and by belief drew to Himself the multitude"(7) was accustomed in the exercise of His Divine Mission, to appeal to the Scriptures.
  31. Evangelium Vitae, 50 On the Cross, the miracle of the serpent lifted up by Moses in the desert (Jn 3:14-15; cf. Num 21:8-9) is renewed and brought to full and definitive perfection.
  32. Christ's Miracles: Salvific Signs The apostles, the evangelists, and the whole primitive Church saw in each of those miracles the supreme power of Christ over nature and its laws.
  33. The Fruitfulness of Pentecost The signs or miracles spoken of in previous reflections also derive from the fruitfulness of Pentecost. They accompanied the apostles' activity, as repeatedly reported in Acts: "Many signs and wonders were done among the people by the hands of the apostles" (Acts 5:12).
  34. Dei Verbum, 21 ...and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life.
  35. Miracles Manifest the Supernatural Order We also see it in the lives of the saints, the history of the Church and in particular, the processes for the canonization of the Servants of God.
  37. Baltimore Catechism, 23i. Divine Tradition is the unwritten word of God – that is, truths revealed by God, though not written in the Bible, and given to the Church through word of mouth by Jesus Christ or by the apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.
  38. Apparitions, Visions, Locutions, and Cardinal Arinze Public Revelation was concluded with the death of the last of the Apostles, Saint John.
  39. New Laws for the Causes of Saints, 5b In the case of an alleged miracle, the competent Bishop is the one in whose territory the event took place.