Ann Mattingly’s Miracle Cure

I am a volunteer at the Archives and have been working on cataloging one of their pamphlet collections into PastPerfect, an online catalog that is available through PAHRC’s website. That way, instead of blindly searching through boxes, all you need to do is a search through the database to locate a pamphlet.

Something interesting that I’ve come across  are several pamphlets about miracles. Three pamphlets published between 1810 and 1830 are about live-saving, miraculous cures.  Two in particular caught my eye because they were about the same woman, Ann Mattingly, whose story has recently become popular with the release of the book Mrs. Mattingly’s Miracle, by Nancy Schultz. The two pamphlets examine Ann’s extraordinary cure and give evidence that a miracle saved Mrs. Mattingly’s life.

The first pamphlet was published in 1824, the same year as her recovery.

1824 Pamphlet about Ann Mattingly

It begins with two letters, one from William Matthews, Rector of St. Patrick’s Church in Washington DC, and one from Reverend Ambrose Marechal, Archbishop of Baltimore, who both profess their belief in Mattingly’s miraculous cure.

Her ailment began in 1817, when she began to feel pain in her left side. Her left breast gradually became more and more painful, until “she could distinctly feel a small lump at that spot, about the size of a pigeon’s egg.” Doctors failed at relieving the pain, and in 1818 Mattingly “was seized with a violent puking” which continued for days. After this, she was unable to leave her bed for months, though she was visited consistently by doctors.

The pamphlet gives explicit details of the pain and agony she endured while she was bedbound. One such detail is that “she constantly felt a tightness across her breast, as if lashed tightly rough with a cord, and an internal burning and smarting sensation, resembling, as nearly as she can conceive, the exposing of a raw burn to hot fire.”

After months of pain, she followed the directions of Prince Hohenlohe, a Catholic Priest in Germany who she communicated with through Reverend Dubuisson, of St. Patrick’s Church in Washington DC. At his advice, she performed nine days of devotional acts. On the final day, Mr. Dubuisson gave her the Holy Eucharist. Right after she completed swallowing it, she was immediately relieved of all pain. She was able to get out of her bed unassisted and knelt to pray to God for thanks. Since that time, she had no more pain, gained strength, and was left with a sweet taste in her mouth, “resembling that of loaf sugar.”

The account of her miraculous recovery was signed and affirmed by Ann Mattingly herself. The pamphlet goes on to include other witnesses’ versions of the miracle. Mattingly’s sisters, sister in law, and friend were all present at the time of her cure, and each swore oaths to the truth of the event. There are also accounts from other friends, family members, clergy members and doctors, who each swear to Mattingly’s pious and honest character, as well as their full belief that a miracle occurred. In all, there are thirty four sworn testimonies, each declaring a true miracle was performed.

The second pamphlet about Ann Mattingly was published in 1830.


1830 Pamphlet about Ann Mattingly

Her story had drawn much attention all over the country. So much so, that the Reverend John England, Bishop of Charleston, requested the incumbent Archbishop of Baltimore’s permission to reinvestigate and reexamine the evidence.  James Whitfield, who succeeded the Reverend Ambrose Marechal as Archbishop of Baltimore, granted his request. Thus, the second pamphlet is a collection of the Reverend John England’s observations and inquiries into the case.

He does a complete investigation, first quoting and citing references found in the 1824 pamphlet, then showing how each assertion made in the original story was repeated and affirmed by multiple witnesses.  He not only looks at previously collected evidence, he speaks to the witnesses again and chronologically organizes their statements to create a narrative of events. His investigation is much more thorough than the original pamphlet and in extreme detail shows how up to the minute of her recovery how dire and grave Ann Mattingly’s condition was.

The pamphlet conveys John England’s belief that a miracle undoubtedly occurred.  He writes:

“I submit, then, that the following statement is fully upheld in all its parts by the documents, and that the testimony of their witnesses is every way unimpeachable – of course, that the statement itself is an exact history of facts, and that the facts being admitted as true, the miraculous nature of the occurrence is evident.”

John England, no date



England, John. Examination of Evidence and Report to the Most Reverend James Whitfield, D.D.,  Archbishop of Baltimore, etc, etc. upon the Miraculous Restoration of Mrs. Ann Mattingly, of the City of Washington, D.C., Together with the Documents. Charleston, 1830. Print.

Matthews, William. A Collection of Affidavits and Certificates Relative to the Wonderful Cure of Mrs. Ann Mattingly, Which to place in the City of Washington, D.C. on the tenth of March, 1824. Washington, D.C.: James Wilson, 1824. Print.

More reading found in:


Through my employment here, I am a member of the Delaware Valley Archivists Group, or DVAG, and have found the association’s meetings to be very informative and educational. It was at a DVAG meeting a couple of years ago that Cathleen Miller, who at the time was serving as Project Archivist for the Chew papers at HSP, gave a presentation on archival repositories’ use of blogs. She noted the many benefits that could result from institutions blogging about their collections and the work that archivists do. The concept has really taken off since then as evidenced by the fact that pretty much any archives’ website, including ours, includes a blog section where researchers and fellow archivists can find frequent and enlightening posts on a variety of topics.

At a more recent DVAG meeting, I was introduced to another form of outreach that some archives are employing: the catablog. Started by the  University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries Special Collections and University Archives, some institutions are using this method as a way to allow users to access their collections. As explained on the University of Massachusetts’ UMarmot site, the catablog originated:

“…as an experiment responding to two perceived needs: first, to find a low cost means of maximizing the public availability of our collections; and second, to find a solution that could be shared with colleagues in less technologically-intensive institutions… we recognized that the indexing capacity, web-readiness, and familiarity of blogging software made it a good fit for an online catalog — hence ‘catablog.’

…we selected WordPress blogging software for its superior combination of power, ease of development and maintenance, and flexibility in design. In keeping with our goal of keeping the catablog model accessible to all of our peers, we have limited subsequent development of UMarmot to inexpensive, easily implemented, open source alternatives.”

We are a less technologically-intensive institution; we use WordPress for our site; we need inexpensive and easily-implemented alternatives…Perfect! The catablog looked like a great option that would allow us to make our collections more accessible to researchers.

With the help of our IT consultant, Walt Rice, Jr. I have begun to create our own catablog to highlight PAHRC’s manuscript collections. Each collection includes an abstract and controlled access terms; some entries also have a link to a PDF version of the full finding aid.

Researchers have the ability to search for collections by keyword by using the website’s search engine. They can also select collections by name or subject, using the drop-down menus, and browse collection descriptions alphabetically, using the alphabetic menu. The controlled accessed terms are configured as link that will show a user all of the collections that share subject terms.

Entry for Coad, Patrick family. Papers, 1798-1880

Our goal is to create entries for all of our manuscript collections as well as to provide full finding aids, both xml and PDF versions, for each of these collections.

Researchers will also be able to access our collections and finding aids through our PastPerfect online catalog.

Elizabeth Sarah Kite and the Seminaries of France

As I was processing the correspondence series of the Elizabeth Sarah Kite papers (MC2), I came across a group of letters written to Kite and signed by “Geoffroy”, which are all in French. As I am not able to read French, nor did I have the time or inclination to transcribe the handwritten letters into Google Translate, I was pleased to find a grouping of records which included some letters from Geoffroy (who turns out to be Theophile (or Theophilus) Geoffroy, a priest in Bethelainville, France) along with letters from Herman Joseph Heuser, editor of The American Ecclesiastical Review, referencing the letters from Geoffroy.




Letter from Theophile Geoffroy, dated January 6, 1921

Letter from Theophile Geoffroy, dated January 6, 1921

It seems that Kite had sent some of Geoffroy’s letters, along with a short article written by her, to The American Ecclesiastical Review, hoping to have them published in order to raise awareness and solicit support for the plight of French Catholic seminaries after World War I. French Catholic clergy were sent to fight in the war, as were other French citizens, and so the Catholic Church in France experienced a serious dearth of clergy after the end of the war. As a scholar of American history and in particular, of French-American relations during the Revolutionary War, Kite knew the extent to which the French assisted the Americans during their fight for independence. Heuser’s initial response was that the piece was out of scope for the magazine, and that they were not able to respond to and publish every such appeal that they receive: “…if we were to print the truly moving cries of priests and religious here and there in Belgium, France, Central countries, Ireland, and the far East, it would cause odious distinctions and open the gate to a thousand furhter [sic] demands that we are unable to answer.”

Letter from Heuser

Letter from Heuser. Postscript reads: “P.S. the MS is being returned by this post under other cover.”

However, a subsequent letter reveals that Kite’s appeal struck an emotional chord in Heuser:


“Miss Elizabeth S. Kite.
My dear Miss Kite,
Your note explaining the occasion of the communication for which you ask space in the E.R. cannot, of course, leave me indifferent. I hope to publish it, with a few introductory words in the spirit of your letter. It may not be possible to get the matter into the March issue which is overcrowded with material previously engaged, and much of which would lose its value and timeliness if omitted or delayed. But the appeal will be still opportune if it appears in the April number.
May God bless the holy zeal that animates you and give you the joy of seeing the wishes of the venerable Cardinal Luçon relayed.
With sincere regard,
Faithfully in J.C.,
H. J. Heuser
[?] 8th 1921.”

In 1921, Kite’s article was published in The American Ecclesiastical Review (see our online catalog for our collection of The American Ecclesiastical Review here) and entreated Americans of any faith to come to the aid of France:

Yet may we not hope that the generous spirit of the American clergy and people who are…so largely indebted to the priesthood of France, and that under many more titles than that of their readiness to help us to independence and with it to religious freedom—may we not come to the aid of the French Bishops in this matter of the seminaries, and to revive the flagging hopes of the venerable Cardinal of Reims?

I could not help but notice that Theophile Geoffroy was not mentioned in the piece published in The American Ecclesiastical Review. My conclusion is that the publication may have felt that featuring a more well-known or prominent figure would have a more significant impact. Based on the piece that Kite wrote, she had been in contact with the Cardinal of Reims as well (though I did not see evidence of this correspondence in the collection). The Cardinal of Reims at the time was Louis-Henri-Joseph Luçon, whose church in Reims became a symbol of the victims of German aggression during the war. The German army began dropping bombs on Reims in September 1914 and did not cease until June 1918. Cardinal Luçon remained in Reims with his parishioners even as the bombs destroyed the cathedral and the town. He was the last to leave Reims and the first to return to rebuild after the armistice. Due to a French law, Luçon could not expect to receive monetary assistance from the government to rebuild his church. As such, he appealed to the Dean of the American Hierarchy for help. John D. Rockefeller was among those who gave money for the restoration of the cathedral, which was eventually finished in 1938. Incidentally, Reims is where the Germans officially surrendered to President Eisenhower in 1945, one day before VE-Day.


Kite, Elizabeth Sarah. “A Plea for the Seminaries of France.” The American Ecclesiastical Review 64 (1921): 407-411. Print.