Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
A person who claims to have extraordinary powers of healing sickness or disability. The healing is effected by the laying on of hands, quoting passages from the Bible, or calling upon God to perform the healing and generally doing so in an atmosphere charged with strong religious feeling.
Most instances of reported faith healing are cases of healing by suggestion. Because of the close relationship between mind and body, hope and courage tend to maintain and restore health, while fear and depression produce an injurious effect on the body. Strong suggestions received from one in whom a person has confidence may be beneficial to health. This is particularly true if the ailment is mainly functional or psychosomatic, or a vivid imagination has made it worse.
Although faith healing by suggestion is not sinful, provided neither superstition, scandal, nor co-operation in fraud is involved, and in serious illness there is recourse to medical help, faith healers who claim to have a divine gift and encourage people to come to them to be cured are traditionally suspect by Catholic standards. Saints are careful not to publicize their sanctity or possible gift of miraculous healing power.