About the same time that I received St. John Berchmans as my Patron Saint for 2011, Pat McNamara posted the story of the miracle that finalized his canonization! A stunning miracle it was! It happened in 1866, in a tiny rural town in southern Louisiana called Grand Coteau. The recipient of the miracle was Mary Wilson, a young Catholic convert who had entered the convent at the Academy of the Sacred heart.
Here is an excerpt from Mary’s testimony:
I do not think I had eaten an ounce of food for about forty days. During that time I had taken nothing but a little coffee or tea, which for a week before I recovered I could no longer take. And for two weeks no medicine had been administered. The doctor said it was useless to torture me more. So, he stopped giving me any. The last two days I was unable to take even a drop of water. I endured the pangs of death. My body was drawn up with pain; my hands and feet were cramped and as cold as death. All my sickness had turned to inflammation of the stomach and throat. My tongue was raw and swollen. I was not able to speak for two days. At each attempt to utter a word, the blood would gush from my mouth.
Being unable to speak, I said in my heart: “Lord, Thou Who seest how I suffer, if it be for your honor and glory and the salvation of my soul, I ask through the intercession of Blessed Berchmans a little relief and health. Otherwise give me patience to the end. I am resigned.” Then, placing the image of Blessed Berchmans on my mouth, I said: “If it be true that you can work miracles, I wish you would do something for me. If not, I will not believe in you.”
I can say without scruple of fear of offending God: I heard a voice whisper, “Open your mouth.” I did so as well as I could. I felt someone, as if put their finger on my tongue, and immediately I was relieved. I then heard a voice say in a distinct and loud tone: “Sister, you will get the desired habit. Be faithful. Have confidence. Fear not.”
I had not yet opened my eyes. I did not know who was by my bedside. I turned round and said aloud: “But, Mother Moran, I am well!”
Then, standing by my bedside, I saw a figure, He held in his hands a cup, and there were some lights near him, at this beautiful sight I was afraid. I closed my eyes and asked: “Is it Blessed Berchmans?” He answered:” Yes, I come by the order of God. Your sufferings are over. Fear not!” For the glory of Blessed John Berchmans, whose name be ever blessed! I deem it my duty to declare here, that from the moment of the cure I never experienced the slightest return of my former ailments.
It is exciting that this incredible story took place not too terribly far from my neck of the woods. I will have to try to get down there for a visit!
I read at that St. John died before he could be ordained a priest. So it is not surprising, and indeed it is wonderfully fitting, that he would obtain a miracle for another person who was facing death before entering religious life. It’s a powerful and reassuring reminder of the bonds that exist between the Saints and us. Let us thank and praise God for giving us the Communion of Saints!
Thanks to Mr. McNamara for sharing this story, and to the kind reader, Mr. Bertrand, who sent me a link to it!