If you are a fan of travel shows – or simply love visiting Catholic sites where the most amazing miracles have taken place — you won’t want to miss the first of many episodes of “Explore With the Miracle Hunter.” First up: Lourdes! (This new 30-minute program debuts at 6:30 pm ET, Thursday, Feb. 11, the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.)
“Lourdes is perhaps the greatest of all the miracle places in the world,” says Writer/Producer Michael O’Neill, who is best known to EWTN viewers for his series, “They Might Be Saints.” (More on this in a moment.) “The Basilica, the wheelchairs and stretchers, the waters, the candlelight procession attended by thousands in normal years. It’s stunning to see.”
In the first episode of “Explore,” O’Neill not only visits the famous Lourdes Basilica and the miraculous waters, but also travels to Nevers, France to see Visionary Bernadette Soubirous’ incorrupt body, and he dazzles us with spectacular drone footage of thousands upon thousands of people honoring Mary in a pre-pandemic nighttime candlelight procession.
That’s not all. As O’Neill walks around Lourdes, and all of the other places on his itinerary this year, viewers will also enjoy exquisite re-creations of apparitions and other miracles. In this first episode, viewers will see St. Bernadette’s visions of Mary.
“People see what happened because of this 14-year-old girl having 18 visions of Mary in 1858,” said O’Neill. “It gives viewers a sense of Catholic pride. People are not traveling right now, so this series is a chance for them to see some of the most sought after and exciting places where miracles took place right from their own couches. Travelers get a hint of what they would experience if they were able to go.”
Future episodes will take viewers to Paray-le-Monial, the site of the Sacred Heart apparitions; San Giovanni Rotondo, home of Padre Pio, the Holy House of Loreto; Lanciano, site of Eucharistic miracles; Rue du Bac, where St. Catherine Laboure received the Miraculous Medal, and many more.
Ven. Bishop Alphonse Gallegos
We would be remiss, however, if we didn’t mention the Miracle Hunter’s other EWTN series, “They Might Be Saints.” The Feb. 20 episode, the third to air in 2021, features Ven. Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, known in Sacramento, California as the Bishop of the Barrio. (Airs 5:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, Feb.20 on EWTN.)
“We have this conception of bishops in their offices and cathedrals, and you never see them except at a Mass,” O’Neill said. “But this bishop went to people’s homes and had dinner with them. He walked around the neighborhood. There was a lot of gang violence. The police would call him in to talk to the [gang members]. He would talk to low riders in their vehicles and encourage them to go to Mass. He was just a spectacular example [of the priesthood].”
Bishop Gallegos has been declared Venerable. This means that based on an examination of all of his writings and speeches, as well as witness testimonies, he is determined to have lived a life of virtue. The Bishop now needs a miracle to be beatified, and a second miracle to be canonized. Although a miracle has been submitted to Rome, the Feb. 20 episode, which airs at 5:30 p.m. ET, focuses on a remarkable cure that wasn’t submitted to Rome because it didn’t meet the requirements of “an instantaneous and lasting cure with no medical treatment.”
The patient, who had some medical treatment, was diagnosed with cancer that was so progressed that the doctors told him he had only two hours to live! However, this man had been one of the Bishop’s altar boys.
“He prayed, his family prayed, they had prayers cards asking for Bishop Gallegos’ intercession,” O’Neill said. “Decades later, this man is cancer free. It’s beyond remission. The cancer is completely gone. We have the testimony of this man talking about his condition. It’s a very emotional thing.”
As the Miracle Hunter tells us: “We have such a supernatural faith. We forget that sometimes. These miracle stories are a great reminder of that!”