The Miracle Hunter  



Weeping Madonna of Syracuse commemorated in Sicily

In an August 29 Mass offered by Archbishop Salvatore Pappalardo, the archdiocese of Syracuse on the Italian island of Sicily commemorated the miraculous shedding of tears in 1953 of an image of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Catholic News Agency August 31, 2020

There have been many claims of weeping statues or icons of Mary and other saints throughout history, but few of them have been deemed worthy of belief by the Church after extensive investigation. Unlike Marian apparitions, where the Blessed Virgin appears to a member of the faithful with a message, weeping statues require the faithful to seek their own interpretations of the miracle, said “Miracle Hunter” Michael O’Neill in comments to CNA in 2016.

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How does the Church recognize a miracle like the one just approved at Knock?

A woman healed of multiple sclerosis 30 years ago is the recipient of the Irish sanctuary's first official miracle.

Aleteia September 10, 2019

One of the most common type of miracles is the sudden healing of someone. According to Michael O’Neill, “For the cure to be considered miraculous, the disease must be serious and impossible (or at least very difficult) to cure by human means and not be in a stage at which it is liable to disappear shortly by itself. No medical treatment must have been given, or it must be certain that the treatment given has no reference to the cure. The healing must be spontaneous, complete and permanent.”

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How many miracles does it take to be canonized a saint?

The canonization process can vary depending on the saint and the history behind them.

Aleteia August 9, 2019

One of the most common type of miracles is the sudden healing of someone. According to author Michael O’Neill, “For the cure to be considered miraculous, the disease must be serious and impossible (or at least very difficult) to cure by human means and not be in a stage at which it is liable to disappear shortly by itself. No medical treatment must have been given, or it must be certain that the treatment given has no reference to the cure. The healing must be spontaneous, complete and permanent.”

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This map illustrates 500 years of Mary’s apparitions

Created by National Geographic, it details which apparitions are approved and which are still under investigation.

Aleteia May 15, 2019

Catholic writer and researcher Michael O’Neill has dedicated his life to compiling all of this information on his website Miracle Hunterwhich contains a detailed catalogue of Marian apparitions and other miraculous events throughout history. National Geographic used the information O’Neill compiled to create a single map that contains all of the reported Marian apparitions that have occurred over the past 500 years.

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Why the fascination with miracles and apparitions?

Meet the "Miracle Hunter" and the film he's promoting.

Jan 30, 2019

“I’ve seen the Virgin Mary! She’s spoken to me! She’s given me a message!” How would you respond? “The crucifix in the sanctuary is bleeding! Come and see!” How would you respond? “I touched the veil of that nun and I was healed! Let’s tell everyone!” How would you respond?

However you might imagine yourself responding, consider this—what if it were your job to investigate such claims? I know someone who has such a job. He’s Michael O’Neill, also known as “the miracle hunter.”

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St. Anna icon that once cried myrrh coming to Detroit church

Detroit Free Press - November 22, 2018

"I think miracles can be a point of inspiration for people, and can draw people closer to God," said Michael O'Neill, a Catholic author and miracle expert from Chicago.

O'Neill runs, a website that tracks thousands of reported miracles involving religious icons, apparitions and stigmata. 

He defines himself as both "a believer and a skeptic." He said he happily celebrates bona fide miracles, such as those that have been investigated by church authorities and validated by science, but only believes when there is proof. Jesus — not miracles — should be the center of a Christian's faith life, O'Neill said.

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The ‘Miracle Hunter’ and ‘The Apparition’

New fictional film is faithful to how the Church investigates Marian apparitions, other supernatural occurrences

Catholic Digest - September 10, 2018

Catholic Digest talked to author Michael O’Neill — aka the Miracle Hunter— about whether the film was faithful to the Vatican approval process, about hallmarks of a true apparition, why it’s good to be a skeptic, his thoughts on whether Medjugorje will get Rome’s official approval, and more.

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In 1994, rosaries turned to gold when believers say Virgin Mary appeared in Belleville

Belleville News Democrat - August 27, 2018

O’Neill said, “In a Marian apparition, the Virgin Mary is said to make a bodily appearance — not just in a visit in a dream or imagination — to one or more people at a specific location with messages intended for that person, the local community or the entire world.”

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- see also How the Catholic Church Validates Medical Miracles

This is how miracles are approved by the Church

Aleteia - May 14, 2018

One of the most common type of miracles is the sudden healing of someone. According to Michael O’Neill, “For the cure to be considered miraculous, the disease must be serious and impossible (or at least very difficult) to cure by human means and not be in a stage at which it is liable to disappear shortly by itself. No medical treatment must have been given, or it must be certain that the treatment given has no reference to the cure. The healing must be spontaneous, complete and permanent.”

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Miracle Hunter, Champion Shrine to be featured on Megyn Kelly 'Faith in America' special

Green Bay Press Gazette - March 26, 2018

CHAMPION – A local shrine is getting some national news attention just in time for Easter. The draw is the shrine's renowned status and the many miracles people say have happened there. 

The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Champion will be featured Wednesday on  Megyn Kelly TODAY. 

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Miracle Hunter will discuss the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima at St. Leo

Lancaster Online - November 7, 2017

The Catholic Church does not list miracles as such. Instead, it lists those events that have been scientifically investigated and still cannot be explained as “worthy of belief.”

O’Neill is a member of the Mariological Society of America. He is the creator of the website, and has been featured on EWTN News, SiriusXM’s Catholic Channel and in National Geographic magazine’s December 2015 cover story about the Virgin Mary. He also hosts EWTN’s documentary series “They Might Be Saints.”

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Did this Spanish nun bi-locate to Texas? Vatican aims to find out

Catholic News Agency - September 14, 2017

Unlike apparitions of Mary or Jesus, which the Vatican heavily investigates, instances of bi-locations or apparitions of saints are typically not formally investigated by the Vatican, said Michael O’Neill, a Catholic miracle researcher who recently published a book on miraculous apparitions in the Church.

O’Neill said that apparitions or bi-locations of saints simply “adds to the story of the saint, their reputation of holiness, and the devotion that arises around a saint,” O’Neill said.

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Miracles inherent to any canonization, Chicago native says

Chicago Catholic - July 13, 2017

Sometimes, it takes a miracle. And sometimes, that’s what you get. Self-described “miracle hunter” Michael O’Neill, who grew up in Chicago, has taken his stories of miracles to the internet, at, to the page with “Exploring the Miraculous” (Our Sunday Visitor, 2015), over the airwaves on Relevant Radio and now to the small screen with a show on EWTN.

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Apparitions at Medjugorje continue to divide: The reported apparitions await Vatican approval — or disapproval — more than 35 years after visionaries first reported them

OSV Newsweekly - July 5, 2017

“Whether or not Pope Francis rules that some early apparitions are in fact authentic, or that none are, or that they will continue to delay a final judgment until the apparitions cease definitively, Pope Francis very likely will opt to establish something to attend to the pastoral needs of the many millions of pilgrims who have gone to this place of conversion and healing,” said Michael O’Neill, author and creator of The Miracle Hunter, a website that tracks Marian apparitions and miracles.

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How to Tell True Apparitions From False

National Catholic Register - May 10, 2017

Michael O’Neil, host of the radio program The Miracle Hunter, created the website to catalog hundreds of reported Marian apparitions dating back to 1900. “The site is a way for people to find out which apparitions are worthy of belief and which ones should be avoided,” O’Neil said in an email interview with the Register. He has built up a worldwide network for gathering information and includes official statements from the local bishops.

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Francis’s trip to Fatima will be short, but hardly irrelevant

Crux - May 10, 2017

Many have wondered about the “grumpy” face of the two little shepherd’s in their official portraits. Miracle-researcher Michael O’Neill acknowledged that it’s unfortunate, seeing that their canonization can help energize young adults and children in their faith. The reason behind their faces, he said, is simple: There’s no picture of the two smiling.

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Everything you need to know about Fatima (Part 1)

Catholic News Agency - May 8, 2017

Miracle researcher Michael O’Neill told CNA that the Fatima apparitionscould be considered the “gold standard of Marian apparitions.”

“It has everything you’ve ever wanted to look for in a Marian apparition. It’s got these secrets, the prophecies, visionaries that will be canonized... you also have a feast day in the general Roman calendar, the approval of the local bishop, and of every pope afterwards, you have the canonization of the visionaries and the basilica that was built, so all the hallmarks of a Marian apparition are there,” he said. O’Neill records the details of Fatima, other Marian apparitions and all things miraculous on his site,

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The many names of Maryam reveal our varied history

The National - December 25, 2016

In general, reports of supernatural and mysterious phenomena seem to have taken a hit in recent years. For sure, UFO sightings are at an all-time low and, just as camera-phones have become ubiquitous, the Loch Ness monster seems to have become a recluse. Despite the apparent downturn in paranormal activity, Marian apparitions are enjoying a boom. Michael O'Neill, author of Exploring the Miraculous, runs a website cataloguing and detailing every alleged Marian apparition over the past 2,000 years; the count currently stands at 2,500 with 500 of these reported in the 20th century alone. The most recent Marian apparition was reported in Atlanta, Georgia this month.

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Meet the Miracle Hunter: Michael O’Neill studies miraculous claims and calls the Catholic Church’s approach to them "perfect"

Aleteia - August 30, 2016

Miracles can really help to bolster somebody’s faith,” (O'Neill) says. “They shouldn’t be the center of our faith. There are people — we all know them — who get hung up on these things. I’m the ‘miracle hunter’ so it sounds funny for me to say this, but if that’s the entirety of your faith, you’re in trouble. But it’s a great entry point and it’s a point of excitement for people to engage with their faith and turn towards Christ, when they see these great occasions when God has blessed the world. For people who have lost their faith, miracles are a great way to re-engage, and for young people who have supernatural characters and storylines in their movies and video games — well, we have all that in Catholic faith so it’s a great way for them to get interested in the faith.”

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Church confirms apparitions in Argentina as ‘supernatural’

Religion News Service - August 15, 2016

“So we have an apparition where we have a living visionary, who’s approved as authentic by the bishops,” Michael O’Neil, who runs the website,told Catholic News Agency. “Usually they wait until the messages end or the visionary dies, but in this particular case they decided to go ahead with the approval.”

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A Church of Miracles: The Church’s understanding of the miraculous takes many forms, all requiring strict Vatican scrutiny

OSV Newsweekly - July 7, 2016 by Michael O'Neill

What is a miracle? By the very etymology of the word —mirari (to be amazed) — it seems to be a rare, inexplicable blessing that is an occasion of God’s benevolent interference in our lives. These special moments go beyond the upending of our expectations or mere marvels, and they are common to all of us — at least the seeking of them.

We all pray for “miracles” of one sort or another. Perhaps a sports fan prays for an impossible Hail Mary pass at the end of a football game or a student begs God to pass a test that he expects to fail. Someone who despairs of finding a lost wallet might desperately beseech St. Anthony for some help. We hope for that dream job or pray to be lifted from a financial difficulty by some sort of divine intervention.

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The curious case of the Lipa Marian apparitions

Catholic News Agency - June 18, 2016

Lipa, Philippines, Jun 18, 2016 / 04:49 pm (CNA).- The story of Sister Teresita Castillo and the supposed Marian apparitions of Lipa City, Philippines reads something like a mystery novel.

A negative judgement given in a document signed by local bishops and subsequent suppression of the devotion most likely drove the visionary nun out of the convent.

Years later, some bishops involved in the disapproval of the case allegedly came forward with deathbed confessions, saying they only ruled against the apparitions on threat of excommunication.

A document from the 1950s that would further clarify the case is still being kept secret in the archives of the Vatican.

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A Marian apparition has been approved in Argentina - and it's a big deal

Catholic News Agency - June 4, 2016

What began with glowing rosaries and the rediscovery of a statue of the Virgin Mary in Argentina has now been approved by the local bishop as a series of apparitions that are “of supernational origin” and worthy of belief.

And the designation is deeply significant, recognizing the messages of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas, which exhort peace and give dire warnings, one miracle researcher says.

Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolas in Argentina’s Buenos Aires province made the announcement May 22 at the conclusion of a Mass during the well-attended pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of San Nicolas.

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It's Official: Major Apparitions of Mary Are Approved

National Catholic Register - May 27, 2016

Holy Trinity Sunday, May 22, was a banner blue-letter day — blue for our Blessed Mother — as Bishop Hector Cardelli of San Nicolas, Argentina, officially declared that the apparitions of Our Lady of the Rosary in his diocese are of “supernatural character” and worthy of belief.

The apparitions took place in this city over 100 miles from Buenos Aires from Oct. 13, 1983 to Feb. 11, 1990. Our Blessed Mother appeared to a housewife named Gladys Herminia Quiroga de Motta nearly daily, giving 1804 messages. Gladys also received 68 visits and messages from Jesus.

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Interview with 'The Miracle Hunter'

Renew America - May 26, 2016

Interview with Matt C. Abbott from Renew America

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Mary statue in California appears to weep miraculous tears

Catholic News Service - May 11, 2016

A statue of the Virgin Mary in Fresno, Calif. appears to be weeping miraculous tears, according to witnesses.

The family that owns the statue says the tears have been coming and going for about the past year and a half.

According to witnesses, the tears appear to well up in Mary’s right eye and stream down her face. Maria Cardenas, owner of the statue, placed a glass under the statue's chin to collect the apparently miraculous tears and share them with people who come to see it.

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Related articles:
Christian Today - Virgin Mary statue in California shedding 'miraculous tears,' witnesses claim

A crash course in Miracles 101

Catholic News Agency - May 8, 2016

What do a grilled cheese sandwich and the tilma of Our Lady of Guadalupe have in common?

Both bore what appeared to be images of Mary. One was determined to be authentically miraculous, the other was not. Not to spoil any secrets, but it’s not Our Lady of the Grilled Cheese that converted Mexico and continues to draw millions of people on pilgrimage every year.

But have you ever wondered just how the Church determines the bogus from the divinely appointed?

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Related articles:
Christian Today - Miracles expert explains the purpose of miracles and what they mean for our faith

National Catholic Register - Miracle Hunter: ‘I Think Miracles Can Play a Huge Role in Evangelization’

Alleged Visionary Charlie Johnston Continues Ministry, Despite Denver Archdiocese's Warning

National Catholic Register - April 29, 2016

“God loves the ordinary. So do I, and so should you. That’s just a simple fact.”

That’s how Charlie Johnston began a presentation in Birmingham, Ala., last summer. Then he went on to recount conversations he has allegedly had since he was a young boy with his guardian angel about a grave crisis that will happen in his lifetime — a crisis he says has already begun.

“We are given these things as sort of mileposts, so that when they come to pass, we see the hand of God in them — and that, really, is what I do. I’m not trying to convince anybody of anything except to acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those around them,” said Johnston of his unusual message.

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Miracle Hunter’s Manual

National Catholic Register - February 20, 2016

By Fr. C. John McCloskey

The author of Exploring the Miraculous is Michael O’Neill, also known as the “Miracle Hunter.” He is a Stanford-trained engineer who, as a devout Catholic in his student days, became fascinated with exploring the technical side of the miraculous. He was first drawn to this subject matter while writing a paper on the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on St. Juan Diego’s tilma. The many scientifically mysterious aspects of the image piqued O’Neill’s interest in exploring other miraculous Marian apparitions and healings.

Over many years, O’Neill has compiled fascinating scientific data to explain such events to the extent they possibly can — or to set out for the lay reader why such events are currently inexplicable. Speaking as a Catholic priest, I can say I’ve never met a Catholic who did not believe in miracles — our faith, after all, is founded on the miraculous events of the Incarnation and the Resurrection, and the New Testament is chock-full of them, even after Christ’s ascension into heaven. (O’Neill looks at these also.)

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How the Virgin Mary Became the World’s Most Powerful Woman

National Geographic Magazine - December 2015

by Maureen Orth

It’s apparition time: 5:40 p.m. In a small Roman Catholic chapel in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the village of Medjugorje, Ivan Dragicevic walks down the aisle, kneels in front of the altar, bows his head for a moment, and then, smiling, lifts his gaze heavenward. He begins to whisper, listens intently, whispers again, and doesn’t blink for ten minutes. His daily conversation with the Virgin Mary has begun.

Miracle or Fraud? How the Catholic Church Decides

Chicago Catholic - June 1, 2014

by Michael O'Neill

There are three traditional categories of ecclesiastical judgments that relate most importantly to the supernatural character of an event: “Not Worthy of Belief”, “Approved”, and the most common, “Nothing Contrary to the Faith.” In examining these cases, the investigation keeps an eye out for glaring errors in facts, doctrinal errors attributed to God or Mary, the pursuit of financial gain and. of course, psychological disorders. When an event is declared “worthy of belief”, it has not only been determined to be free of theological error, but also provides a great moral certainty (or at least probability) of a miracle and results in a healthy devotion and spiritual fruits.

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When Pope John Paul II died eight years ago, supporters chanted "Santo subito," or "Sainthood now!"

Live Science - July 9, 2013

By Tia Ghose

It looks like his supporters will finally be getting their wish. The former pope's path to sainthood is almost complete, with the Vatican  recently confirming that he performed two miracles. Now all that's left is the official canonization ceremony, which  has not been scheduled yet. The process of certifying miracles in the Catholic Church goes back centuries and involves an investigation by scientific experts. 

Though it may seem strange to outsiders, verifying that miracles have occurred can strengthen people's beliefs, said Michael O'Neill, who runs the website

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