The story of healer John of God is far from unique

His story first came out of Brazil where thousands accredited him with their healing. His renown reached millions of people around the world as news coverage of miraculous claims began to spread.

He would see some three hundred patients a day five days a week, spending only a moment with each person. His surgical tool was often nothing more than a small knife that he would stick into a patient’s eye to scrape the socket.

Other times he would shove the knife into a person’s body at the place of a tumor without anesthesia or the benefits of sterilized tools. Patients would experience little to no pain and very little blood loss.

Physicians studied his work up close, amazed at the claims as well as the pace of his surgery, each procedure lasting only a few seconds. In time a film was made about the healer who claimed he was a “spiritist” that heard from God.

And while his story may sound familiar to viewers of The Oprah Winfrey Show or to readers of O, The Oprah Magazine, the man above is not the recently featured John of God.

Rather the parallel story is that of Jose Pedro de Freitas, a Brazilian healer who claimed to have treated some two million patients between 1950 and 1970. Better known as Arigo, the account of his life is chronicled in John G. Fuller’s book, Arigo: Surgeon of the Rusty Knife.

And like John of God, Arigo claimed to work as a Kardecist, someone who supposedly operates on a patient’s spiritual body with direction from deceased physicians and healers.

And while it is beyond the scope of this article to investigate the claims of John of God, the strikingly similar account of Arigo’s life and work surely call into question certain reports that have been made about the formers life.

Indeed, their stories are so parallel, down to the location and to the fact that neither charged for their work, one must conclude it is more than chance that so many similarities remain.

And while skeptics and believers continue to debate the validity of John’s work, from an investigative standpoint it is important to know that this story has played out before, which at the very least detracts from some of the supposed mystery of the infamous Brazilian figure and might just help lead us closer to reaching a conclusion about just what truly is happening in Brazil.