Friday, December 9, 2011

An Advent Saint

Scupture by Timothy Schmaltz

Usually, for a beatification there must be a miracle which has been deliberately studied and approved by the Congregation for Causes and Saints accepted by the Holy Father. In the case of Saint Juan Diego, John Paul II decided to beatify him without the approved miracle. He had been declared Venerable in 1987.

There was a miracle for his canonization and here it is:

Juan Jose Barragan Silva, of Mexico City, was a drug addict from his adolescence. He and his mother had been abandoned by his father.

On May 3, 990 Juan Jose, after getting drunk and high on marijuana with a friend, went home and started to cut himself on the head with a knife. His mother, Esperanza, tried to get the knife away but failed. She implored him to stop abusing himself and give up the alcohol and marijuana. He shouted that he didn’t want to live any more so loudly that the neighbors came to see what was going on, but the door was locked. Juan Jose threw himself off the balcony of their second floor apartment.

In that moment, Esperanza had a “flash”. Knowing that Pope John Paul was to be in Mexico for the beatification of Juan Diego, she called on Juan Diego to intercede for her son.

Sculpture by Timothy Schmaltz
Juan Jose fell about 10 meters and landed close to a friend of his, Jesus Alfredo Velasquez Ramirez, who saw him land on his head on the concrete pavement. Juan Jose was bleeding profusely from the mouth, nose and ears. They covered him, thinking he was dead. He suddenly sat up, rose and went to the stairs leading to his apartment. On meeting his mother coming down the stairs he asked his mother’s forgiveness. They embraced and remained that way for another ten minutes or so before the ambulance came.

During the ambulance ride Juan Jose said he had lost his vision. On the way to the hospital he prayed the Our Father.

The prognosis was very pessimistic. The doctor explained that it was already unbelievable that he was alive. They did tests immediately and found that he had multiple fractures, large hemotomas to the neck, lacerations of the muscles and air in cranial cavity and in the cerebral ventricals. The Sacrament of the Sick was administed under the impression that he would soon be dead.

He continued to live.

The first days he was sedated. On the May 5th, doctors found that his pupils were symmetrical and reactive and that he could move his arms and legs. The next day he was released from the ICU to a regular ward. On the seventh day his feeding tube was removed. He was released on the tenth day after the fall. Subsequent tests by neurologists and other specialists showed a total recovery. Juan Jose also gave up his drug habit and started school.

It seems that his change of condition came on May 6th, at the very time John Paul II was beatifying Juan Diego.

The decree concerning this miracle was promulgated on December 20, 2001. Holy Father Pope John Paul II canonized St. Juan Diego on July 31, 2002.