Updated: May 12, 2017 09:57 AM GMT
Filipino devotees welcome the image of the Our Lady of Fatima during a visit to Manila in October 2016. (Photo by Angie de Silva)
When Sarah Hilomen Velasco, a Filipino television host, learned that the image of the Our Lady of Fatima was in Davao City in February she and her husband rushed to the church.
Sarah was not there to cover the visit but to pray for a miracle for her ailing one-year old daughter who had a hole in her heart.
In a post on Facebook, Sarah said her daughter has "ventricular septal defect," a type of "congenital heart disease, in which the hole rarely closes."
"Did my daughter come into this world only to be taken away," the anguished mother wrote. She learned that the hole in her daughter’s heart has a "slim chance of closing."
Sarah, a long-time devotee of the Divine Mercy didn’t lose hope. "I asked friends for prayers and God for a miracle," she said.
Her devotion to the Divine Mercy was put to the test when her mother was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer in 2014. Sarah prayed every three o’clock in the afternoon and in the morning for her mother’s recovery.
"But there was nothing we could do," she said. Her mother died in 2015 at three o'clock in the afternoon, the hour of the Divine Mercy prayer.
Sarah's loss introduced her to the Our Lady of Fatima when a brother gave her a poster of the Blessed Mother’s image.
Her prayers never stopped, this time for her child's health, especially after another medical test revealed a slightly bigger hole in her daughter's heart.
Sarah was devastated. "But we kept our faith," she said.
After the visit to the church where the image of the Our Lady of Fatima was temporarily housed, Sarah placed her hands over her child’s chest, "and prayed with all my heart."
When another test was done, the mother was expecting a slightly bigger hole. But what the doctor later revealed "brought me and my husband to tears."
The doctor could not find any hole in the child's heart.
Sarah could not believe what happened. She walked out of the hospital crying. "I cried pure happy tears," she said.
"Miracles are true, and we believe. "We have one proof of it, our daughter Xandrah," she said.
In Manila, Melvin Carlo Grimpola, a nurse in his early 20s, was also diagnosed with a congenital heart disease in October 2016.
In an email interview with ucanews.com, Melvin explained how he passed out one day and woke up bleeding.
He was rushed to a hospital where he was subjected to a battery of tests that revealed an "atrial septal defect" of his heart.
"It was due to incomplete development of the organ while I was still inside of my mother’s womb," he said.
Several other tests confirmed the findings. A "transesophageal’ procedure" was suggested, but the young man refused.
Melvin's mother learned that the image of the Our Lady of Fatima was visiting their parish church.
"It was the last day of the pilgrimage, and the image was about to go to another parish," said Melvin who was accompanied by his mother to pray before the Virgin Mary.
"I felt something strange in my body," recalled the young man. "I felt something heavy struck my chest. I felt the muscles on my chest stretched," he said.
The next day, Melvin and his mother went to the hospital for another set of tests. The doctor could not believe what the test results showed. The hole in Melvin’s heart had "mysteriously disappeared."
Melvin is in now in Japan to pursue his studies. "I wouldn’t be able to do this if I was not healed by Mama Mary," he said.
He said he owes Our Lady of Fatima his "second life" and vowed to "pay by extending a helping hand to those who are in need."
The Catholic Church marks this week the centennial of the reported apparition of the Virgin Mary before three children in a village in Fatima, Portugal on May 13, 1917.
In 1930, the Catholic Church officially recognized the apparitions, and in 1946, Pope Pius XII granted a canonical coronation of the statue of the Our Lady of Fatima.
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