In 2002, doctors told a 41-year-old New York woman that she should prepare to meet her maker. She’d been bed-ridden with meningitis and other ailments for some time, and it didn’t look good. But she didn’t give up and resign herself to her fate. Instead she got on a train to New Orleans (her illness prevented her from flying) and made an offering at the tomb of famed voodoo queen, Marie Laveau, who died in 1881, but went on to become the center of a far-reaching spiritist cult.

The woman, who asked local media to identify her simply as “Jackie,” made a near complete recovery.

In 2003, she made a another trip to Marie’s tomb to “close the circle,” as she put it. “If you believe there are spiritual forces with great power,” she said, “this is definitely the place to come.”

People are certainly coming. Tour guides say Marie’s grave, at St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery near the
French Quarter, is one of the most visited graves in the United States. It’s become the U.S. equivalent of Lourdes, the French town where miracle cures are said to have occurred.

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