Catholics sure can milk superstition

Catholics sure can milk superstition

When we we carried a report yesterday about the ‘grave sin’ of in vitro fertilisation, we were blissfully unaware of the fact that the Catholic Church has a ‘clinic’ in Bethlehem which more or less guarantees that women will get knocked up.

No “sinful” science like IVF is involved, according to this recent Religious News Service report. All you need to do is turn up at the Milk Grotto Church and have faith that the Virgin Mary will pop a bun – or perhaps several – in your oven.

Franciscan Brother Lawrence Bode, 69, has an office in the church, where, according  to myth, the Virgin Mary hid in an underground cave in order to breast-feed Jesus as she and Joseph were fleeing that nasty King Herod.

Dozens of photos of smiling babies, accompanied by moving testimonials, line the walls of Franciscan Bode’s office. Included is one of quadtruplets. Said Bode:

The father thanked me but said, ‘I certainly won’t be praying here again’.

It was at this location, Catholics believe, that drops of Mary’s breast milk spilled to the ground while she was nursing Jesus and turned the grotto’s red-brown stones a creamy white.

Located around the corner from the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Mary allegedly gave birth to Jesus, the Milk Grotto is:

The go-to destination for Christians — and those struggling with infertility.

A proud Bode said:

We estimate that in the past dozen years at least 3,000 babies have been born to mothers who prayed in the grotto. And these are only the births we know about since I started collecting testimonials.

We’ve had stories of Muslim women who’ve had children after visiting the grotto, and of two Israeli women as well.

In all, Bode has seven large photo albums brimming with pictures and testimonials, a handful of which he shares with the tens of thousands of people who visit the church every year.

The Franciscan believes Mary may have left the Nativity church out of a desperate need for privacy.

She gave birth in a stable, with animals all around, and people had to feed and clean after the animals. How could Mary have had the privacy to be a mother and nurse in a stable?

The New York native advises couples grappling with infertility to pray the daily devotion, or prayer to “Our Lady of the Milk”. It helps if  one were to add a pinch of the limestone powder made from the grotto’s stones into a drink before consuming it.

Bode emphasised that, due to church policy, he cannot respond to letters or send the Milk Grotto powder to those who request it. It is, however, available to pilgrims at $2.00 a packet.

The devotion, which Bode believes dates back nearly 2,000 years, implores Mary to intercede with God on their behalf.

He attributes the grotto’s apparent baby boom, as well as about 20 testimonies of other types of healing, to “faith and prayer”.

Those who choose to consume the powder do so:

Because it helps them feel closer to Mary the mother of God.

The present stone church and monastery were built by the Franciscans in 1838 and, like other Catholic holy sites, are maintained by the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

The RNS report got up the nose of at least one reader. “Theophilus” commented:

Honestly, if you are a Catholic don’t you just cringe and say to yourself, ‘When will the Church admit that this superstitious baloney has no place in the Christian faith?’  Or has this hogwash been given the imprimatur of ex cathedra untouchability?

• The picture above is of Hilda Berkley praying at a painting of Mary breast-feeding the infant Jesus. (RNS photo courtesy Debbie Hill/Catholic News Service.)

22 responses to “Catholics sure can milk superstition”

  1. L.Long says:

    Well we know that the 1st Commandment does not apply to the RCC.

  2. sailor1031 says:

    “It was at this location, Catholics believe, that drops of Mary’s breast milk spilled to the ground while she was nursing Jesus and turned the grotto’s red-brown stones a creamy white.”

    O please!!!

  3. Barrogos says:

    Take more than a bunch of flowers, a prayer and a bit of tawdy over stylised catholic propaganda art to get her in the photo pregnant…ad hominem I know and not very charitable but the kind of crap dished up by the rcc never fails to send me off on one….

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    Job 21:24 tells us “His [God’s] breasts are full of milk, and His bones are moistened with marrow.” So maybe it’s drippings from the udder of the Lord Himself!

  5. Gurgly McGee says:

    I took a watery shit after reading this article. Proof that reading about religious quackery gives people the runs!

  6. AgentCormac says:

    A merry winter solstice to one and all! And to get christmas day off to a flying start, how’s this for a warped and torturous piece of thinking?

    In his sermon today, Justin Welby, the Archbish of Canterbury, will talk about the WW1 battlefield truce between German and British troops in 1914, saying that it illustrates something of the ‘heart of Christmas’.

    ‘At Christmas 1914, soldiers took the risk, crossed a battleline and kindled an evening of friendship and football. The truce illustrates something of the heart of Christmas, whereby God sends his Son, that vulnerable sign of peace, to a weary war-torn world. …but the following day the war continued with the same severity.

    ‘Jesus came to the reality of this world to transform that reality – not to take us into some fantasy kind of ‘happy ever after’ but to ‘Good news of great joy for all people’.’

    In other words, God and Jesus could do nothing to stop the slaughter, but that’s ‘good news of great joy for all people’. What a load of old bollocks!

    ‘Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?’

  7. Paul Cook says:

    So they say Mary is the mother of god.
    I am reading about the myths and legends of the Greek and Roman gods. They both had a lot of gods impregnate -(well rape actually)- mortal women. But, as we all know that christianity is a unique and truthful religion, they couldn’t possibly have used myths or stories around at the time and suggest something similar for their god/son/sun.

    Agent cormac
    I just listened to the BBC report where they report wellby says jesus arrived 1914 to spread and bring the love, but no comment on how the slaughter went on. It is incredible for its utter stupidity.

  8. Newspaniard says:

    “Yes madam, you have a good pray here; deposit a small donation; remove your knickers; then Friar Bigusdickus, who is in the next room, will perform the sacred plunging ceremony…”

    Are you sure that the woman in the picture is praying for a pregnancy or just a man… any man?

  9. Newspaniard says:

    I forgot to mention… A very merry ______* to all my fellow commentators and Barry who provides us with such excellent food for thought.

    The thought of dancing, naked around a blazing Yule log in the snow holds a certain attraction but only on the tele…

    *Fill in your own season: Winter Solstice/Yuletide/Christmas (or the boring but PC “Holiday”) Other suggestions are welcome.

  10. Angela_K says:

    I’ve just read that revolting piece written by Welby and Co. They never miss any opportunity to hijack, exploit and distort in their increasingly futile attempts at seeming relevant; the recent deaths in Glasgow being an example. War, disaster, floods and famine are all good for the business of religion.

    Welby, as usual, bristling with hypocrisy forgets his own cult’s very bloody past. Onward Christian soldiers eh Welby?

  11. barriejohn says:

    It is the comments of Vince Nichols that had me incandescent with rage this morning. The BBC are giving the bigoted bastard an open platform,and nothing he says is being subjected to any scrutiny whatsoever, so he just blathers on about the “true faith that all great religions share” (what?) as if any of it makes any sense whatsoever. (See AgentCormac’s BBC link above for video).

    And how about this trio of Wise Men?

    Yes – it’s “Christian Values” again, everybody!

  12. Daz says:

    Happy Cab Calloway Day to all here.

  13. Marky Mark says:

    I had the chance to deliver my copy of “God is not Great” to my catholic friend today, and he was glade I brought it. Great time I had with friends from the past.

    I prefer to say, Happy Holidays to all….but I will really celebrate the new year over and above the whole Christmas gig.

  14. barriejohn says:

    On the front cover of the Christmas edition of Private Eye one of the magnificent, migratory, mythical magi is telling Mary that if she wants to breast feed she should do so in private:

    Happy Solstice Celebrations everyone, and a rational and fantasy-free New Year.

  15. tonye says:

    Have a merry hijacked pagan festival everyone

  16. Brian Jordan says:

    Milk? Sounds more like that holy ghost is still hanging around there!
    Belated solstice greetings to all.

  17. Brian Jordan says:

    Oh, and how about this topical gem?
    “Christmas in danger of becoming a “fictional”, … celebration” says archbish Welby, according to the Torygraph. 🙂
    Except, it seems, he didn’t: that was just the press release, he actually cried off, claiming a bad cold.

  18. Barry Duke says:

    I love Cab Calloway, Daz, and own virtually his whole discography.

    And Let’s not forget that today is also the birthday of Denis Charles Pratt, the name Quentin Crisp had “before he dyed it”.

    Quote: “When I told the people of Northern Ireland that I was an atheist, a woman in the audience stood up and said, ‘Yes, but is it the God of the Catholics or the God of the Protestants in whom you don’t believe?”.

    I learned of Crisp’s birthday via an excellent resource – Freethought of the Day – provided by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. It is well worth bookmarking. I have written about it in today’s Freethinker bulletin, which goes out later this afternoon.

    If visitors to this site haven’t yet signed up for the bulletin, I would urge you to do so.

    Have a cool yule, everyone.

  19. Daz says:


    A doube-whammy. Cab Calloway plus, quite simply the most amazing dance routine ever. Anyone wishing to disagree—I’m afraid it’s gonna have to be pistols at dawn.

  20. Barry Duke says:

    Can’t argue with you there, Daz. I’d not seen that routine before, and it just blew me away. BTW someone called Larry Marshall did a pretty good Cab Calloway impression in the movie The Cotton Club. Enjoy.

    Oh, and especially for our Christian readers, Cab – as a much older guy – doing Ain’t Necessarily So.

  21. dennis says:

    happy winter solstice to everyone!!!!
    I like winter solstice because it is factual not a fairy tale.
    Cab is one of my favorites and yes Mr Marshall did a good impression. well off to deal with the god virus folks. wish me luck.

  22. Robster says:

    Those wafer thingies the catholics munch on at church on Sundays must contain a special ingredient of some sort like a narcotic drug. Surely it takes more than holy water and incense to get to this stage of superstitious creativity, jees it almost makes the ancients that made up the bible look pretty average in creative terms. These people need to exploit their talent for nonsense and get the stuff published, comics would be a good choice, or get little wee videos made for Youtube. Also if that Mary’s breast milk was that effective as a paint, get the recipe and sell the stuff, sure sounds more effective than white wash. I know the RCC is swimming in tax free cash, but they are missing out on business opportunities, those child sex payouts may mess up the budget. Best to think ahead.