(Photo: REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)
The miraculous healings and apparitions of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were recently described at a news conference by first-hand witnesses, three days before their joint canonization.
Speaking at a conference at the Vatican on Thursday, Floribeth Mora Diaz said that some people thought she was crazy to believe that John Paul II helped heal her brain aneurysm in May 2011, six years after his death. She described it, however, as a "blessed craziness, because I'm healthy," Catholic News Service reported.
The Costa Rican woman is said to have gone through an "inexplicable recovery" thanks to the Polish pontiff on the day of his beatification, which the Vatican said was a double miracle since not only was she healed, but the faith of her family had been restored.
Diaz, who traveled to the Vatican with her husband and four children, recalled that she was told she only had a month to live by local doctors, since she could not afford surgery abroad and they could not help her brain aneurysm.
The 50-year-old woman said that she watched Pope John Paul II's beatification ceremony on May 1, 2011, who she had a long devotion to, before she fell asleep. A few hours later, she heard his voice saying: "Rise! ... Do not be afraid."
She said, "I had a peace, a peace that assured me I was healed."
Diaz noted that her doctor was shocked after he later did an MRI and found that the illness was indeed gone.
"My husband wondered why he wasn't saying anything and I said, 'because I've been healed through the intercession of John Paul II.'"
She added that she wasn't the only one who said that she had been healed, "but there were doctors, who were very serious, saying so."
It was the second miracle attributed to John Paul II, following the healing of a French nun who recovered from Parkinson's disease in 2005. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre has said that her order had been praying on her behalf when she wrote down Pope John Paul II's name on a piece of paper, and her illness suddenly vanished.
Two miracles are usually required for the Roman Catholic Church to consider a person for sainthood, and John Paul II is set for the fastest canonizing in modern history following his death. Pope John XXII, on the other hand, who died in 1963, has had to wait 51 years for his sainthood.
Thursday's news conference also featured the account of Daughter of Charity Sister Adele Labianca, who talked about the healing of Sister Caterina Capitani in 1966, the miracle attributed to John XXIII.
Labianca, who worked with Capitani in 1963 at an Italian pediatric hospital, said that the nun suffered from a gastric hemorrhage and underwent months of treatment, when doctors removed most of her stomach, her entire spleen and pancreas. On May 22, 1966, she was at the point of death when she was brought a relic, reportedly a piece of John XXIII's bed sheet.
"She put it on her wound in the hope that the Lord would come with his mercy and his love. Suddenly, Sister Caterina woke from her stupor and no longer felt any pain," Labianca revealed, adding that "instead she felt a hand on her wound and heard a voice calling, 'Sister Caterina!'"
"Frightened to hear a man's voice in her room, she turned and saw Pope John standing by her bed. He told her she was fine, and she went to tell the other sisters that she was healed and hungry," Labianca recalled.
The Catholic world is set for massive celebrations of the popes' canonization on Sunday, one week following Easter. Nineteen heads of state and 24 prime ministers are expected to attend the ceremony at St. Peter's Square. Rome has previously said it expects three millions visitors in total for the two weeks.
Celebrations are also poised to be held in the U.S., with the Knights of Columbus announcing that it will sponsor events on Saturday and Sunday in Washington, D.C.; New Haven, Connecticut; and Los Angeles.
"These two saints have each left very important legacies for the Church, and important examples of holiness for all of us," said Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who worked with Pope John Paul II on several initiatives and will be in Rome for the canonizations.
"Pope John XXIII led the Church into the Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II served as its key interpreter, leaving the Church a profound legacy that continues to shape the third millennium of Christianity."