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Lighten up, says India's most popular faith healer
It's not easy getting a crowd together on a sweltering Sunday at 3 pm, but a farm on MG Road was packed with people who had driven across Delhi to listen to Patrick San Francesco, popularly known as Patrick, the Healer (the 'h' in Healer being deliberately capital). I first heard of Patrick from a friend, who flew to Goa for a consultation with him for a particularly scary health crisis. "You haven't heard of Patrick, where have you been living?" she asked, incredulous. This seemed to be the common refrain when I checked with many other people. For the uninitiated, Patrick is a faith healer based in Goa whom hundreds flock to, hoping he'll cure them of various ailments. For sceptics more disposed to laugh at the crazy and irrational belief that an ordinary human has healing powers to cure stuff science can't, all I can say is that Patrick has supporters who swear by him. The Internet is full of stories of how an encounter with him changed their lives.
At this workshop that wasn't about faith healing, Patrick offered advice on 'Life', or coming to terms with the choices and decisions we made that may have taken the fun out of living. Dressed in a black Nike T-shirt and jeans, sporting long hair and an unkempt stubble, Patrick looked more like an ageing rockstar than a to-be godman, but his scruffy, dishevelled appearance was of no consequence to a rapt audience. "Why do we worry? You have your limbs intact. Look at old beggars, they've grown old on the streets, you'll make it one more day," he spoke in a soft, resonant tone, with a beatific smile. "Leave it to the universe to take care of you," he added. Patrick got all this wisdom from living his own life, which has apparently been a series of unmitigated disasters, with him lurching from one catastrophe to another. As a child, he was incapacitated by paralysis and a coma from which he recovered, he says, because of his unwavering faith. After he lost all his money due to a stock market crash, he realised that God had a different plan for him that didn't involve waking up every morning to clock into an office. To use a cliché, he then emerged victorious, miraculously cured of illness and greed, and finally happy.
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