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Speaking words of wisdom on how Mother Mary came to be

IN OCTOBER 1961 a thin and pallid 23-year-old woman was admitted to a Sydney hospital sweating profusely, with cramps in her cold hands, faintness and a recent history of menstrual hemorrhaging.The diagnosis was as swift as it was certain: the recently married Catholic woman had acute myeloblastic leukaemia. She was given barely a month to live.”The outlook was extremely poor and death was the evident outcome,” her doctor said.”My health started to decline from April or May of that year,” she said. “I got very tired. Bad cramps in hands; they were cold and numb.”Her family began referring to her in the past tense, her husband was told to expect the worst, and she went home in a wheelchair a little over a month later to prepare for the hereafter.On Boxing Day that year she returned to hospital with painful abscesses in her upper left arm and right thigh.”I think she was even more acutely ill than before,” her doctor said. “I think the doctors had a gloomier outlook on that second occasion. Despite the large doses of cortisone, she had developed the abscesses and presented a pitiful picture.”Then a miracle occurred. The cancer disappeared and in the following decade she gave birth to six healthy children.Now 72, she lives in Sydney.The woman, who has maintained her anonymity for more than 40 years, is Mary MacKillop’s first miracle, the reason the lauded nun was beatified in 1995.The details of her “extraordinary” recovery are closely guarded in volumes of Vatican documents borne out of decades of dedicated research by the Sisters of St Joseph and MacKillop’s former postulator, Father Paul Gardiner.A copy of the Vatican’s final medical report and unanimous judgment of the five-member Consulta Medica panel of doctors, viewed by the Herald, leaves no room for doubt.The patient’s prognosis, the official Vatican medical assessors concluded, was “infausta” – fatal.Her recovery was just as convincing: “Progressiva, completa e duratura; non spiegabile in base alle nostre conoscenze scientifiche.”html,body { border: 0px; }There was no scientific explanation for her complete and lasting return to perfect health, they said.The 1993 Vatican report contains the testimony of five treating and consulting physicians, none of whom could explain the disappearance of the woman’s terminal disease.”If it could be proven that this was a permanent cure, I would regard it as a miracle,” said one haematologist who treated her.”In light of all the circumstances, and in particular the fact that she has successfully had a baby, such an outcome is absolutely unexpected.”Though we know that remissions can occur, such a remission as hers is without precedent in my experience,” he said.But the sisters who invoked Mother Mary after a phone call from the sick woman’s mother had an explanation.”I hadn’t heard anything until her mother rang me to tell me she was very ill and had been in [hospital] for two weeks, and she asked me to get prayers said for her,” a Sister of St Joseph said.”I put a notice on the board asking for the Sisters to pray for her.”The Sisters and the sick woman’s family initiated a novena – a devotion of prayer – through Mother Mary of the Cross.The patient recalled the hospital bedside visit: “Sister gave me a relic of Mother Mary to pin on me,” she said.”The relic had a little photo of Mother Mary and a tiny piece of white cloth. I said the prayer that Sister gave to me – the prayer for the beatification of Mother Mary.”Barely six months later, the woman was working again. Less than a year after her second admission to hospital with abscesses, she was pregnant with her first child.”Gradually I felt stronger,” she said.”I didn’t have to go to hospital again, except for the birth of the children.”All the deliveries were quite normal. The babies needed no special care.”On the eve of papal confirmation of MacKillop’s second miracle – a Hunter Valley grandmother whose brain tumour and lung cancer disappeared after she was given just three weeks to live – Father Gardiner recalled the climax of the first.As MacKillop’s postulator, he was standing by Pope John Paul II at Randwick Racecourse in 1995 for the beatification when the Pope leaned in towards him.”He said: ‘This is wonderful, but remember it’s only the beginning.'”
Nanjing Night Net