In 1824 in Washington, D.C., Ann Mattingly, widowed sister of the city's mayor, was miraculously cured of a ravaging cancer. Just days, or perhaps even hours, from her predicted demise, she arose from her sickbed free from agonizing pain and able to enjoy an additional thirty-one years of life. The Mattingly miracle purportedly came through the intervention of a charismatic German cleric, Prince Alexander Hohenlohe, who was credited already with hundreds of cures across Europe and Great Britain. Though nearly forgotten today, Mattingly's astonishing healing became a polarizing event. It heralded a rising tide of anti-Catholicism in the United States that would culminate in violence over the next two decades. Nancy L. Schultz deftly weaves analysis of this episode in American social and religious history together with the astonishing personal stories of both Ann Mattingly and the healer Prince Hohenlohe, around whom a cult was arising in Europe. Schultz's riveting book brings to light an early episode in the ongoing battle between faith and reason in the United States.
Nancy Lusignan Schultz is professor of English, Salem State University, Salem, MA.