Philippe Anthelme Nizier was an apprentice butcher working for his uncle in Lyon. He was also a miracle worker, though this had little effect on his own clumsiness as an apprentice butcher. It did allow him to heal himself however when he cut the tendons of his thumb and index finger whilst preparing a carcass. He put his thumb back in place and prayed and a few moments later all was well.
News of the miracle spread and this latter day Jesus of Lyon was mobbed by the sick and the desperate. So great was his fame he decided to switch from butchering to doctoring, though in some quarters there may have seemed little difference.
His studies proved useful, allowing him to diagnose as well as cure. When an out of breath girl complained of violent pains in her side and difficulty in standing, he not only diagnosed a double pulmonary embolism he healed her by a simple declaration that she was ‘healed’. The woman was duly grateful and trotted out the room pain free.
More significantly he confounded skeptics by cure after cure so that his fame spread. On seeing a patient crying over a leg due to be amputated the following day he assured him he had nothing to worry about. Sure enough the leg underwent a miraculous healing, much to the surprise of the surgeon next day.
A jealous establishment called him a charlatan and banned him from further hospital work for his temerity in curing the sick without a degree. The sick didn’t seem to mind and continued to seek him out, and, because he rarely if ever ‘touched’ a patient the authorities could not accuse him of malpractice or inappropriate behaviour.
His fame spread far beyond Lyon. In 1881 he treated the Bey of Tunis, was granted a doctorate in Medicine by the University of Cincinnati in 1884. Two years later the Royal Academy of Rome made him an honorary Doctor of Medicine, whilst at home he was condemned again and again for medical malpractice.
This didn’t stop the Russians taking an interest in him. One leading Russian noble recorded how he met Philippe Nizier at Mass in Lyon. In the sermon the priest had advised the congregation that biblical miracles should not be taken literally. Philippe disagreed, and when the priest in a dudgeon declared: “May thunder strike this church if I can believe these things”, Nizier raised his eyes to the sky and gestured. Lightning flashed over the church followed immediately by thunder.
The Russian noble might have been over doing the vodka or borsch but news of it impressed the Tsar. Members of the Tsar’s household began to visit him in Lyon. And in 1901 Tsar Nicholas invited him to Russia as a favoured guest. More, at the risk of offending the French, he was made a Doctor of Medicine – though he first had to pass an exam. A medical jury was assembled. Nizier asked it for a list of hospital bed numbers, and, without leaving the room, he not only diagnosed the patients but cured them as well. The Russian doctors confirmed the fact and he was duly granted his doctorate.
Some report a letter he wrote to the Tsar warning him of a revolution that would exterminate the Royal family and thousands of Christians, and for those who believe in reincarnation he also prophesied that he, Philippe, would one day return as a small child ‘…and those who need to recognise me will do so.’
Back in Lyon he locked himself away, working, some said, on an elixir of life. It had little effect. He died in 1905 collapsing silently on the floor.
What's puzzling is why Rasputin is so much more well known than Philippe Nizier. Maybe sex has something to do with it.