A woman whose “miraculous” recovery from an inoperable brain aneurysm paved the way for the late Pope John Paul II to be declared a saint at a ceremony at the Vatican this weekend has described how the Polish pontiff appeared to her in a vision.
Floribeth Mora Diaz, from Costa Rica, will be a guest of honour at the ceremony on Sunday, when Pope Francis will canonise two of his predecessors – John Paul II and John XXIII, the Italian pontiff nicknamed “the Good Pope” who initiated reforms to the Catholic Church in the 1960s.
Three years ago, Mrs Mora was told by doctors in her home country that her condition was hopeless and that her death was only a matter of time.
Partially paralysed, she was on pain medication and lying in bed at home on May 1, 2011, clutching a magazine with a front cover photograph of the former Polish pontiff, when he purportedly appeared before her in a vision.
It was the day that John Paul II was beatified at a grand open-air ceremony in St Peter’s Square – the first step towards him being made a saint.
“Floribeth, get up, what are you doing here? Why don’t you go into the kitchen and see your husband?” the vision said to her.
Floribeth Mora, the Costa Rican woman whose inexplicable curing of her medical condition has been attributed to a miracle by Pope John Paul II.
The late Pope’s hands seemed to reach out towards her from the cover of the magazine, she said.
“And I responded, now I feel fine, I’m going, I’m going,” the 50-year-old mother-of-four told Il Messagero, an Italian daily, on Wednesday.
She insisted that from that day on, she was completely cured. “I felt a great sense of wellness inside me.”
Acknowledging that many people would be highly sceptical of her recovery, and of the whole concept of miracles, she said that “people can think what they want – what I know is that I’m healthy.”
“There are always people who don’t believe me, who say I’m crazy, but what counts for me today is that this ‘crazy woman’ is cured.”
Even her neurosurgeon seems to be convinced. "If I cannot explain it from a medical standpoint, something non-medical happened," said Alejandro Vargas Roman. "I can believe it was a miracle."
She recounted the story on a website linked to the beatification of John Paul II.
It was not long before the Vatican contacted her in what was the start of a long process in which the purported miracle was scrutinised by the experts of the Holy See, led by the Vatican “postulator” in charge of advancing John Paul II’s sainthood.
Mrs Mora was flown to a Church-run hospital in Rome, where she was registered under a false name while doctors conducted tests which showed that she was completely healthy.
“I was meant to be just a tourist from Costa Rica who had fallen ill while on holiday in Italy,” she said. “The watchword was – maximum secrecy.”
Since her recovery, she has become the object of almost cult-like devotion, with the faithful and people suffering from illnesses flocking to her home in a middle-class neighbourhood in the town of Dulce Nombre de Cartago, 12 miles outside the capital of Costa Rica, San Jose.
She has had to give up much of her work for her family-owned security business to deal with the huge interest in her story, welcoming the faithful to the home she shares with her husband, a former policeman, and children.
People have given her so many letters and messages to hand to Pope Francis when she meets him this week in Rome that she has had to buy an extra suitcase in which to carry them.
While she is pleased that John Paul II will be made a saint on Sunday, in an unprecedented event which will probably also be attended by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, she told the Associated Press:
“For me he’s already a saint.”
Her cure, which the Vatican insists cannot be explained by science, was declared a miracle last July by Pope Francis, in a move which gave the final approval for John Paul II to be canonised.
The first miracle attributed to him was the apparent healing of a French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre.
Her recovery from Parkinson's disease after praying for the late Pope’s "intercession" in 2005 had no medical explanation, the Catholic Church maintains.