Even though St. Juan Diego was beatified by St. John Paul II without the required miracle, when it came time for his canonization, the humble seer of Guadalupe provided a stunning miracle attesting to his heavenly intervention.
Recounting the story on his popular blog, Father Z’s Blog, Father John Zuhlsdorf writes about the case of Juan Jose Barragn Silva of Mexico City who was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Abandoned by his father, he was raised by his single mother, Esperanza, who tried desperately to get her son to mend his ways.
The situation came to a head on May 3, 1990, when Juan Jose, who was 20 years old at the time, came home drunk and high and started to cut himself with a knife. When Esperanza tried to stop him, he shouted at her, saying he didn’t want to live anymore. He then ran to the balcony of their apartment and threw himself out the window.
In that moment, Esperanza remembered that Pope John Paul was on his way to Mexico for the beatification of Juan Diego and instantly called upon the soon-to-be Blessed to intercede for her son. She reportedly entrusted him to God and the Virgin of Guadalupe and, specifically invoking Juan Diego, she implored: “Give me a proof … save this son of mine! And you, my Mother, listen to Juan Diego.”
Juan Jose fell about 10 meters. A friend, Jesus Alfredo Velasquez Ramirez saw the fall and said Juan Jose landed on his head on the concrete pavement. He rushed over to his friend and saw that he was bleeding profusely from his mouth, nose and ears. Neighbors assumed he was dead and covered him with a blanket.
However, Juan Jose suddenly sat up, rose, and went to meet his mother who was coming down the stairs to ask for her forgiveness. The two embraced just before the ambulance arrived. Juan Jose said he was able to say one Our Father before blacking out.
By the time he reached the local hospital, he was in a coma. Doctors determined that he had sustained severe injuries to his spinal column, neck, and cranium, and was also suffering an intra-cranial hemorrhage. His prognosis was so grim that he was given the last rites.
Surprisingly, Juan Jose continued to live.
“The first days he was sedated,” Father Zuhlsdorf describes. “On the fifth, doctors found that his pupils were symmetrical and reactive and that he could move his arms and legs. On the sixth 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.”
J.H. Hernández Illescas, regarded internationally as one of the best specialists in the field of neurology, and two other specialists, described the case as “unheard of, amazing, and inconceivable.”
Esperanza was convinced that her son’s miraculous recovery was due to the intercession of Blessed Juan Diego – who was beatified during the time her son lay in a coma!
The facts of his case came under investigation and were eventually accepted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in November of 1994. Five medical consultants filed reports attesting to the gravity of Juan Jose’s injuries, the likelihood that they would prove fatal, his complete and lasting recovery and the inability of medical professionals to determine how he could have survived. Their reports were approved by the Congregation in February, 1998, followed by the approval of the theological consultants as to the invocation to then-Blessed Juan Diego. In September, 2001, a decree was issued declaring the healing of Juan Jose to be a miracle attributable to the intercession of Blessed Juan Diego.
Juan Diego was canonized July 31, 2002.
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