Magic and all that is ascribed to it is a deep presentiment of the powers of science. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Deep in a remote village in central Brazil, a humble, illiterate farmer has dedicated his life to healing in a ministry that, frankly, confounds the nature of “reality” as we know it. For more than five decades, João Teixeira de Faria — known as “John of God” — has inexplicably healed thousands of pilgrims from all over the world in a manner that science deems flatly impossible. Next February, as they do four times a year, Ojaians Deb Court and Sequoia Hamilton will guide locals to the famed healer’s center, offering the chance for them to be placed in his mysterious care.

“Many people go there for health issues,” said Hamilton, “but it’s much more than just a sick house — people go to figure out their life’s purpose, to find their soul mate, for help with a career. I went to reach for the next level as a writer,” she continues, “and truly magical things opened up for me.”

Profiled on national programs such as ABC News Primetime and Oprah, John of God’s methods defy explanation, even as he makes no secret of them, openly treating thousands of people per week without charge at his Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola in Abadiânia, Brazil. “The energy at the Casa is very strong,” offers So Cal native Bob Dinga, who was healed of an “incurable” retina disease more than a decade ago. “I would say that the veil between worlds [is] very thin there,” he concludes. “Life should be at least as much about living,” Hamilton adds, “as it is about trying to avoid dying. That’s what the Casa is all about.”

The 68-year-old mystic healer is said to have discovered his gift in adolescence. When directed by an otherworldly presence to visit a nearby center, the young João complied and promptly fainted. By the time he awoke, several hours later, an astonished crowd had gathered, and said he had performed spectacular healings all afternoon, possessed by an assortment of spirits. Those mystical beings, known as the “entities,” are thought to number in excess of 70 distinct personalities, including St. Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuit order), Dr. Oswaldo Cruz (credited with stopping epidemics of plague in Brazil) and other deceased physicians, surgeons, saints and theologians. They are said to regularly inhabit João to this day, freely ministering to the endless questing throng.

Dr. Jeffrey Rediger, a psychiatrist and medical director of McLean Hospital Southeast — an affiliate of Harvard Medical School — traveled to Brazil as a skeptic, but after spending time observing surgeries performed without sophisticated instruments or anesthesia, concluded, “I have to change the way I think about the world. When I was assisting on one of the surgeries, he cut this woman’s cornea,” he revealed in a press video. “She didn’t flinch, she didn’t try to pull away from him — I heard some people use the term ‘spiritual anesthesia,’ but I can’t explain that.”

It’s easy to dismiss “supernatural” practice, as we commonly do with anything that falls beyond the grasp of the scientific method. Clearly, today’s technology reveals a complexity that remains beyond our ability to measure, that could easily spiral beyond the grasp of ever-advancing technology for as long as we endeavor to peer further and deeper than ever before. Whether or not John of God is a bona fide “miracle-worker” — whether such things as miracles exist at all — is a matter for each person to decide according to individual sensibilities. It’s a phenomenon for which everyone has an open invitation to bear witness, come next February.   

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