Five doctors from the University of Montpellier in France studied the visionaries in ecstasy on several occasions in 1984. The team was headed by Professor Henri Joyeux, a hospital surgeon in the Cancer Institute of Montpellier, and the director of a laboratory which researches nutrition, as well as being involved in experimental cancerology. Following is an interview Prof. Joyeux gave in the summer of 1985 for the publication, “Paris Match”, in which he discusses how he became involved with this study of the visionaries, and the findings and conclusions made from the testing.
Paris Match: How did you, as a professor of medicine, come to be interested in the apparitions in Medjugorje?
Prof. Joyeux: It was providential. A friend of mine asked me to read Fr. Laurentin’s book so that he could obtain a scientific view of these supernatural events. During the first weeks of the apparitions, in June 1981, the visionaries had been examined by two Yugoslav doctors to see whether they needed psychiatric treatment. The doctors honestly testified to their psychological and psychiatric fitness. Apart from my being a neurologist or neuro-psychiatrist, I am interested in all phenomena which science finds inexplicable.
The main purpose of our first medical expedition was to take observations only. In March 1984 four of us drove there from Montpelier. I was the only doctor in the group; a friend, who is an electronic engineer, M.R. Dubois-Chabert, accompanied us. On 24 and 25 March 1984, I witnessed the phenomena of ecstasy, as it has been occurring every day since 24 June 1981. I had expected to see the young people in a particular state of ecstasy: rigid and tense. But the five of them—one does not receive any more visions—Ivanka, 17 years old, Ivan 18, Jakov 13, Vicka 19 and Marija 18, seemed very natural and normal. They certainly did not fall into ecstasy as one would from a ladder. They enter slowly into an ecstasy. No violence or abnormality could be seen in their behavior. The first two ecstasies I witnessed lasted for less than two minutes. During this time they appeared to be talking to someone we did not see; they articulated words we could not hear. Only towards the end we heard them again praying the ‘Our Father’; the Virgin Mary, they explained, usually starts the first words of the ‘Our Father’…At the end of the ecstasy their gaze followed upwards and one or more said ‘ode’ which means ‘She is going.’
Paris Match: And then you went back?
Prof. Joyeux: On coming back to Montpelier, I immediately contacted some of my colleagues, specialists in neurology, neuro-psychiatry, sleeping disturbances, neuro-physiology, ophthalmology, otorhino-laryngology and cardiology. We decided to conduct a full investigation of these supernatural phenomena. Not all of my colleagues agreed to it, some being reluctant to deal with sacred events, others worried about getting into trouble. We decided, considering the difficult circumstances of the situation in Medjugorje (at the time a communist country, 1200 miles from Montpelier, not knowing the language) to make several expeditions taking plenty of time. They took place on 9-10 June, 6-7 October, 28-29 December 1984.
|Over a period of almost a year, from March to December 1984, Prof. Joyeux from France and his team of colleagues set to work to study the visionaries of Medjugorje in a way that science had never had the ability to do before any time in history. They brought very sophisticated equipment to look at the physical reactions of the visionaries while in the ecstatic state.|
Paris Match: Did the children agree readily to being examined?
Prof. Joyeux: When we first arrived in June, we could not get them to agree straightway. First, they could not see the purpose of it, but most of all they felt guilty about disobeying Our Lady since after Doctor Botta, from Milan, did some investigations, they asked Her what She thought about these experiments and She has stated: ‘It is not necessary.’ But young Jakov, because of our insistence, ended the discussion by suggesting, ‘We’ll ask Our Lady as we are going to see her anyway.’ At the end of the ecstasy on 28 June 1984, the young people all agreed that Our Lady’s answer was: ‘It is good you thought of asking me. You may have it done.’ For us who do not see the Virgin, we had the impression that it was the wall in front of which they knelt that had changed their minds completely. They had been against it, but now they had become like lambs, ready to accept whatever we asked.
Paris Match: Which experiments did you perform?
Prof. Joyeux: None of htem gave scientific proof that the Virgin is appearing to the visionaries and this is impossible to achieve. These many experiments (polygraphy) can be repeated or multiplied, but I consider that the results we have obtained up to now allow us to draw some important scientific conclusions. With Professor Jean Cadilhac we did, before, during and after the ecstasy an electro-oculogramme (movement of the eyes). With Dr. J. Philipott we proceeded to study the visual function experimenting with ordinary reflexes in the eyes; reflexes of contraction of the pupil reacting to light, reflex in blinking when the eye is exposed, screen-test consisting in setting a cardboard screen in front of their eyes during the ecstasy.
We have also studied with Dr. F. Roquerol their hearing faculty by recording the effect of a measured sound injected into the ear of one of the visionaries, 70 decibels before the ecstasy and 90 during it, which corresponds to the noise of an internal combustion engine at high speed. Ivan did not hear this noise, though he had reacted to a feeble noise before the ecstasy. This proves that during the ecstasy Ivan is as if disconnected from the outside world, though his hearing faculties function normally. We have also recorded their blood pressure and heartbeats. As I said, the main video-recordings have been examined with the greatest accuracy, especially by Professor J. Cadilhac.
On returning in October the young people objected to being tested again. They again asked Our Lady if they should submit themselves to it. The answer was clear: ‘You are free.’ So after some explanations of the experiments, they agreed to them.
Paris Match: What questions did you put and what results did you get?
Prof. Joyeux: We needed to know if the cerebral function, the sight function, the hearing and phonation were subject to modifications during the ecstasy in comparison with the period before or after. It was strictly necessary to answer the following questions: Is the ecstasy a state of sleep, a dream state, an illusion, an illness such as epilepsy, hysteria, a cataleptic state, a nervous disorder, or a pathological ecstasy? The main purpose of our work was to obtain very accurate scientific data by observing how the main organs were functioning…In this case you need to rely on ordinary common sense and medical common sense. As a matter of fact, there is no need to be a doctor to recognize that they young people are normal and sane in body and mind.
|Though the visionaries found the testing inconvenient, and first needed to be reassured by Our Lady that it was something they should participate in, once Our Lady appeared, everything else was forgotten. A 90 decibel noise was sent through the earphones that Ivan is wearing while in ecstasy, but it didn’t register to him at all. He said he did not hear it.|
Paris Match: In the end, what results did you get and what are your conclusions?
Prof. Joyeux: The phenomena of the apparitions at Medjugorje cannot be explained scientifically. According to experiments carefully conducted, we can affirm that there has been no pathological modification in the parameters which have been investigated. In one word, these young people are healthy and there is no sign of epilepsy nor is it a sleep or dream state. It is neither a case of pathological hallucination nor hallucination in the hearing or sight faculties connected with an abnormality in the functioning of the peripherical sensorial receivers, the hearing faculty or sight. Neither are there any paroxystical hallucinations as testified by the electro-encephalogram nor delirious hallucinations nor acute mental confusion. It is neither hysterical nor a nervous disorder nor a pathological ecstasy because the visionaries show no signs of these conditions in any of the clinical examinations. It cannot be a cataleptic state, for during the ecstasy the facial muscles are operating in a normal way. We can also ascertain that the intentness of the movements of the orbs of the eyes of all the visionaries is in perfect timing with each other at the beginning and the end of the ecstasy. During the ecstasy there is a perfect convergence of their eyes and there is a strong feeling of a face to face encounter between the visionaries and a person we cannot see.
Their behavior presents no pathological signs. During the ecstasy they are in a state of prayer and inter-personal communication. They are not drop-outs, dreamers or people who are tired or distressed. They appear to be free and happy, well-rooted in their country and the modern world. At Medjugorje, the ecstasies are not pathological or a trick. They do not belong to any scientific denominations. It is more like a state of deep, active prayer, in which they are partially disconnected from the physical world, in a state of contemplation and sane encounter with a person whom they alone see, hear and can touch. We cannot reach the transmitter but we can ascertain that the receivers are in a state of sane and good working order.
|Test after test was performed, leading the scientists to one determination: the experience of the visionaries cannot be explained by science. But they are talking to something. What that something is, only they, the Medjugorje visionaries, can tell us.|
Paris Match: So you really believe that the Virgin Mary is appearing to them?
Prof. Joyeux: As scientists we can reach no conclusion in such a matter. This can be answered only by competent people such as the local Bishop and the theological commission which is advising him. In Lourdes the Catholic Church did recognize the eighteen apparitions of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette. At Medjugorje, if the Virgin Mary is appearing, she will have appeared more than 1500 times…(In June 1986 it will be over 1800) it would not surprise me if one dya the Church does recognize these apparitions.
Paris Match: If the Virgin Mary was not appearing, could it be a trick?
Prof. Joyeux: Through the many experiments we have made, we can exclude this. Crowds of people have been there from all over Europe, the United States, and even Japan…Most of the French people I have met there, or even those who have been there and whom I have met back here, have been transformed; they feel peaceful and happy and eager to return there. I could not state that the Virgin Mary is appearing in Medjugorje, but if God exists, why should this not be possible?
Interview with Dr. Joyeux printed in the publication Paris Match, Summer 1985, reprinted in MIRecorder, Peter Batty, 1986, 4-6