"There never was a more ordinary woman than the one standing before you," she tells her audiences in a quiet, dramatic voice. "I have nothing, nothing to do with these healings. I have only yielded my life to Him. Do not try to reach out and touch Kathryn Kuhlman. Reach up and touch Him."
The words are earnest and appropriate enough for the diminutive figure in the white dress on the stage of Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium. Joyfully middleclass, fiftyish, a lady who likes fine clothes, Kathryn Kuhlman looks for all the world like dozens of the women in her audience. But hidden underneath the 1945 Shirley Temple hairdo is one of the most remarkable Christian charismatics in the U.S. She is, in fact, a veritable one-woman shrine of Lourdes. In each of her recent servicesin Los Angeles, Toronto and her home base of Pittsburghmiraculous cures seem to occur.
The Los Angeles service was typical. "The power of God is going through a sugar diabetic," she cried suddenly, pointing out into the audience. "There is a cancer, and every bit of pain has left that body. Somebody with a hearing aid on, take it off. You can hear. Someone with a heart condition is being healed. There is bursitis in an arm in the balcony. The arm is completely loosened."
Now the ushers began to urge the cured into the aisles, up to the stage. The woman in white encourages them to try their new-found health: an old man in shirtsleeves, claiming to be cured of a spinal injury, tosses his cane away and runs across the stage. A seven-year-old boy, with his mother, says that he can hear in a seemingly deaf ear for the first time since he was three. "Did you know Jesus was going to open your ear?" asks Kathryn. "Yes," answers the boy, "because He loves me." Kathryn folds him in her arms. "When you grow up to be a big man, you must remember that Jesus loves you."
Jesus. God. The "H-o-o-o-ly Spirit." Kathryn Kuhlman carefully assigns credit for the remarkable phenomena that take place in her presence. But whatever the cause of the healing, the cases are often remarkable. Some examples:
> In July, twelve-year-old Venus Yates lay in Los Angeles County General Hospital under intensive care for rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever and a tumor on her spine. Against the hospital's wishes, Venus' parents took her on a stretcher to one of Kuhlman's monthly services in the Shrine Auditorium. As the service neared its end, Venus' mother suddenly said, "You're cured!" Medical tests for the ailments now prove entirely negative.
> Paul Garnreiter, the seven-year-old boy who regained his hearing at the August service in Los Angeles, had suffered a proteus infection in his left ear for four years. A mastoidectomy two years ago showed a severely deteriorated eardrum. Last week Paul's physician could find no evidence of damage.
> Judith Schipper, 29, had a calcified tendon in her left elbow when she went to a Kuhlman service in Los Angeles. Her illness had been diagnosed by X ray last summer after she had complained of pain. X rays taken last week showed that the calcification no longer existed. Her doctor admitted that it could have cleared up by itself, but Mrs. Schipper contends that it pained her only days before the service.