What is a miracle? It is a word we use frequently to describe all sorts of situations. But what about “authentic” miracles?

Can we know—really know—whether they are real or some sort of delusion? Are miracles essential to the truth
of any religion? What does the absence or lack of miracles say?

These are questions that have no easy answers, especially in the abstract. Here I propose that we look at a series of “miracles” that took place in Paris, France, in 1730. The controversy surrounding them might—or might not—give us some insight into the nature and the value of miracles. Miracles in themselves might be less important than how we view them.

Peter Conroy is Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois-Chicago where he taught French language and literature for 34 years, and served two terms as department chairman. He has written four books of literary criticism, translated another about French history, published over 40 articles in professional journals, and has presented many papers at scholarly conferences in the US and Europe.