A procura ao Santuário de Nossa Senhora Aparecida por enfermos e incapacitados remota desde o surgimento da santa. Há quem considere um fenômeno brasileiro, com características culturais próprias. Hoje, The Wall Street Journal mostra que um seguro-saúde holandes paga a ida de seus segurados ao santuário de Lurdes na França.
By JOHN W. MILLEROctober 23, 2007; Page A1 LOURDES, France -- In 1985, Dutch teenager Marcel Roeg fell off his moped and into the darkness. The smart-aleck jock would never again play goalie, ride a scooter or dance with his girlfriend Marissa. The accident left him brain-damaged and blind. Since that day, Mr. Roeg has spent most of his time in a home for the handicapped, harboring a dream. In the dream, he goes to Lourdes to visit the famous place where in 1858 a 14-year-old peasant girl claimed to see the Virgin Mary. There, he is healed. He rides a motorcycle again. And he is no longer lonely. Last month, Mr. Roeg, now 37 years old, actually made the trip to Lourdes -- thanks to his insurance company, VGZ. In an unusual scheme, the Dutch company spends about $280,000 a year to fly 600 of its sickest and most disabled clients to Lourdes. The company doesn't expect the Virgin Mary to intercede. It hopes for a different sort of miracle. "Lourdes leads people to compassion and friendship," says Johan Rozendaal, a VGZ board member. "They remember what it's like to have somebody really care about them." Mr. Roeg expected more than that. His mother had made a pilgrimage to Lourdes just a week before his fateful crash. He figured the place owed him something. When Mr. Roeg had his accident, doctors weren't sure he would live. When he awoke from a two-month coma, he was confused and afraid. Slowly, he learned to talk and walk. A doctor, Jan de Lint, was devoted to his rehabilitation. He met regularly with the boy, and counseled the family on how to deal with the accident.