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The Third Miracle: An Ordinary Man, a Medical Mystery, and a Trial of Faith Hardcover – January 11, 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Bill Briggs is that rare journalist who can report like a bulldog and write like a poet.”
—Mark Obmascik, author of The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession 
“This book has the two most important ingredients for great nonfiction: a great story and a great storyteller. Bill Briggs has a marvelous voice and deft touch.”
—Adrian Wojnarowski, author of the New York Times bestseller The Miracle of St. Anthony

"[An] intriguing glimpse into the Vatican saint-making process….In page-turning prose, Briggs details not only the process by which [one] miracle was authenticated by the church, but also the personal disquiet felt by the recipient, who was forced to ask the question—why me?” --Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

BILL BRIGGS writes for MSNBC.com, covering business, travel, and health. He is the coauthor of Amped: A Soldier’s Race for Gold in the Shadow of War (Wiley, 2008). He earned seven national writing awards for the Denver Post, from investigative journalism to humor pieces. His articles ranged from an exposé on a sexual predator coaching youth basketball to a series of stories revealing dysfunction and financial irregularities within the U.S. Olympic Committee. Briggs also has written for the Financial Times, the Miami Herald, and the Nashville Banner, covering business, sports, health, travel, and crime. Briggs has one daughter, Andrea, a college student. He lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife, Nancy.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (January 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767932692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767932691
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,544,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

BILL BRIGGS writes for NBC News, covering military affairs, veteran and home front issues, health and business. He is the coauthor of Amped: A Soldier's Race for Gold in the Shadow of War (Wiley, 2008). Briggs has one daughter, Andrea. He lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife, Nancy.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The focus of this unusual, but excellent book, is on Mother Theodore Guerin, and the elongated process of her canonisation as a saint within the Catholic church. The fine writing of the reportorial author does not repeat the content of many other informative tomes about the saintly pioneer, but well regards her legacy within the group she founded, the American Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods, as well as the congregation's service to the human community.

There are very few books written about the process of making saints; and I know of no other which tells of the whole process at several levels from ideation to completion. This is simply a remarkable insight into the life of a holy woman, her charism, and the response of others who strongly desire to share that charism with the universal church, and the whole world. The story is so well-written and engaging that it becomes a kind of page-turner as usually found in thrillers or mystery fiction.

For me, however, the central figure in the story was Phil McCord, the ordinary guy who was the recipient of the gift of a miraculous cure through the intercession of Mother Theodore. What goes on in the mind and experience of a person who is cured of a particular dibilitating illness when he is not a Catholic, or a religious man, but reared in a kind of anti-Catholic milieu in Anderson, Indiana?

With the story of Phil McCord -- a highly intelligent married man who works with his hands in maintaining the various lands and buildings on the property of St. Mary of the Woods -- a deep conversation begins with the reader.
"Why me?" At this point the author touches contemporary readers living in a techno-society fueled by monetary values and histories of finding meaning in rational values.
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Format: Hardcover
The Third Miracle is a detailed account of the secretive Catholic saint-making process. In Jan. of 2001 a Baptist handyman named Phil McCord makes an urgent plea to God and Mother Theodore. McCord had suffered for months with a raw, red, damaged eye. His one shot at recovery is an eye transplant which carries with it many possible risks. Full of fear and dread, McCord stops in the convent chapel and offers a spontaneous prayer. When he awakens the next morning, his eye is much better. Over the course of weeks, he is fully recovered. No surgery and something that the doctors can't explain. Was the healing a miracle?
Bill Briggs dissects the intricate workings of how a saint is made. I had no idea that this process takes so long and is so involved. I was pretty fascinated by the rules and the steps taken. The fact that two miracles must be proven before a person can become a saint. I did find myself occasionally doing a quick read over some parts that were very detailed, but for the most part, I thought this was an incredible non-fiction work. There were many parts that emphasized the eternal clash of faith and science. I definitely come away from this book having learned so much more about saints and how they come to be. This is a great read whether you are Catholic or not.
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Format: Hardcover
In the splendid new book by Bill Briggs, the opening synopsis states "On a raw January 2001 morning at a Catholic convent deep in the Indiana woods, a Baptist handyman named Phil McCord made an urgent plea to God." This rather ordinary line is the catalyst for one of the most engrossing non-fiction reading I have had the pleasure of reviewing. In the hands of a master writer like Mr. Briggs, Phil McCord's story of his amazing recovery from a severe eye disease and lack of need for human help (surgery) becomes an immensely readable story of the inner workings of the Catholic Church and it's investigation into this "miracle". The reader is quickly grabbed into the narrative, which reads like a literary detective novel and left marvelling at the power of the written word, especially when a writer with the rare skills of Bill Briggs wields the pen!
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Format: Hardcover
It seems kind of strange to be writing a review of a book that tells the world of a very private experience. I am not obviously a professional reviewer,but I might offer some relevant insights for any of you considering the purchase of this book.
Through the process of creation of this work, Bill and I have developed a valued friendship more than that just resulting from a shared creative experience. I have come to appreciate his honesty and his approach to the researching and writing of this book. It was a true search for the truth without any personal ax to grind. I learned a lot about the process of canonization and a lot of what was happening during the process and I was kind of in the middle of it all. The quality of writing is good straight forward journalistic style reporting, but he has a real knack for finding the meaningful personal details. I asked my family if that was what I was like during the whole time of this "adventure" and they all said "Oh, yeah. He nailed you."
I'm still not sure if that's complimentary, but it rings true.
I hope you find the book to be as enjoyable a read as it was for me.
I guess in the spirit of full disclosure I have to say that I have no financial or any other interest in this book other than to wish success for a good friend who made an extraordinary effort to tell a really good story.
Best of luck, Bill.
Phil McCord
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