“Never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.” These words from the Memorare could also be applied to a great devotee of Our Lady like Dona Lucilia, always ready to maternally welcome those who come to take refuge under her shawl. Countless are the favours obtained thanks to her intercession, by virtue of which she has become more and more known.
Overcoming successive obstacles
The solicitude of this compassionate lady was recently shown to the family of Nathalie Maceo, who lives in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. After experiencing complications during the birth of her second child, Nathalie once again faced various difficulties during the pregnancy of Ana Lucilia, the couple’s third daughter.
She relates that during the first five months of pregnancy “the amniotic fluid did not increase, but on the contrary it decreased.” As a result, the doctors recommended absolute rest and prescribed a number of medications to be taken daily, in addition to weekly appointments with her physician. If the treatment failed to have the desired effect, it would be necessary to perform a Caesarean section and the probability of the baby’s survival was virtually zero.
As the family had experienced the precious intercession of Dona Lucilia in the case of their second child, Nathalie did not hesitate to turn to this good mother again, fully confident that she would come to her aid in this distressing situation. And so it was: ten days later, the pregnancy was stabilized.
However, in the eighth month, she began to have contractions at a dangerously abnormal frequency, obliging her to rush to the emergency room. After analysing the case, the doctor who attended her said that it was necessary to perform a Caesarean section. She explained that the baby would be premature, with her lungs not fully developed, and that she would need to spend several days in intensive care.
“Lord, may Thy will be done”
Soon after birth, Ana Lucilia had a cardiac arrest, and the doctor performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. As expected, her lungs were very weak and she had to be intubated right away. The mother relates that on that day, even without understanding why God was allowing this suffering to befall the family, she and her husband felt strengthened, and confident in the power of prayer.
The next day, the paediatrician told the parents that the girl had developed pulmonary hypertension and that they needed to increase the dose of oxygen. While he was explaining the infant’s delicate situation, he noticed that the mother was holding a rosary in her hands, and he said: “We are praying for her, too.” At that moment, Nathalie felt that the Lord was sending the best people to take care of little Ana. She remembered once again the great efficacy of prayer, without forgetting to ask for Dona Lucilia’s intercession.
On the third day, the hypertension worsened and a dangerous bacterial strain was found in her body. It was necessary to increase the amount of oxygen, which caused the perforation of one of her lungs. Furthermore, the doctors informed her that Ana Lucilia would have to receive a blood transfusion.
In this situation, the parents decided to take the most important and urgent step: to ask a priest to baptize the infant. Thus, even in the midst of so many torments, Ana Lucilia had the grace of becoming a child of God.
Nevertheless, the couple felt as if they were living an endless nightmare, because on the fourth day of hospitalization their little girl experienced another crisis that required another resuscitation process, this time done with a manual pump, as the lungs did not react to the ventilators. There was another perforation – this time in the other lung. And, as she could not feed on her mother’s milk, she began to receive special nutrition, injected through her veins.
While expressing admiration for the girl’s remarkable resilience, the doctor felt obliged to tell the parents that medically there was nothing more they could do for their daughter; they could only pray and hope for a miracle. He authorized them to visit her several times a day, giving them to understand that the child could die at any moment. In this heart-breaking situation, they took the attitude of true Christians: “Lord, may Thy holy will be done!” They then began to pray more insistently, imploring divine intervention.
And they were soon answered, as Nathalie tells us: “On the fifth day, the paediatrician called us very early to say that the baby’s colour had improved and she had less need of oxygen. What a great joy for us! It was the first good news we had received since her birth.”
From then on, each day there was an improvement in the clinical profile until, on the thirteenth day, the baby was breathing normally. One doctor who had thought Ana would not survive, astonished to see the happy outcome of the case, commented: “All of this was a miracle.” Later, on seeing the child breastfeeding, another specialist made the same comment: “All of this was a miracle.” This was also the opinion of the nurses, who, when Ana Lucilia was discharged, said, as they bid farewell: “There goes our little miracle.”
“Yes, it was definitely a miracle – a miracle of Dona Lucilia,” Nathalie concludes jubilantly, ending her account.
Victory amidst grave risks
At times, Dona Lucilia puts confidence to the test: she does not seem to completely answer the supplications made to her, in order to encourage trust that her kind assistance will come in the end. This can be noted in the account sent by Sr. Juliane Campos, of the Heralds of the Gospel.
At the beginning of May 2012, her mother, Zuleida Campos, residing in Belo Horizonte (Brazil), then eighty years of age, was on the verge of suffering a stroke because she had a 98% blockage in her right carotid artery. She needed to undergo a very delicate surgery, all the more so because of her advanced age. The whole family entrusted the case to Dona Lucilia and the pre-operative examinations were started.
In the meantime, acute abdominal pain brought her to the hospital where many gallstones were discovered in her gallbladder, requiring a somewhat urgent surgery to remove it. The doctors found themselves in a serious impasse: if they operated on the gallbladder, the patient might not survive, given the pressure that would be put on the obstructed carotid artery. If they operated on the carotid artery, the gallstones might block the duct, complicating the situation considerably, as there was already an infection due to the existing obstruction.
The family was willing to accept the surgeons’ decision regarding the sick woman’s bodily health, concerning themselves more with the needs of her soul, certain that Dona Lucilia would help them to find a priest to administer the Sacraments, especially the Anointing of the Sick, a task that was not so simple in that region. At last, they found a priest from the Society of the Divine Word who was willing to assist her. The doctors decided to operate on the carotid artery first, and the operation went very well.
A surprise on the elevator
A waiting period of a few weeks was required before performing the second procedure. Zuleida’s recovery was admirably fast and the cholecystectomy was scheduled for mid-June. In principle it would be laparoscopic surgery, and the doctor reassured the patient and her family that it was a simple operation and, if all went well, she would be discharged within 48 hours and could return home.
Once the surgery had been performed, the doctor emerged from the operating room saying that there had been a small complication, due to the excessive number of stones, which had made it necessary to perform an open cholecystectomy. But, he added, the patient was doing well and was under observation.
To the surprise of the relatives, who were seated in a waiting room located in the elevator lobby, they began to notice unusual movement around the operating room, with nurses and doctors entering and leaving in a hectic manner. Shortly afterwards, the surgeon informed them that Zuleida had suffered an internal haemorrhage in the hepatic region, making a new intubation necessary for a new surgical intervention, and to remove the clots. The bleeding was stopped; however, as she had bled heavily, she had to receive a transfusion of three units of blood. As a result of all this, she suffered hypovolemic shock, her blood pressure dropped to almost zero and, in medical terms, she had to be “resuscitated”: with a very high dose of noradrenalin the doctors managed to restore her blood pressure, which was still very unstable and tending to fall. The surgeon had her transferred to the ICU. There, they would try to keep her alive by means of machines, but did not offer much hope that she would last very long.
Sr. Juliane recalls how, seeing her mother being taken to the ICU on the stretcher, her greatest distress was knowing that she might die without receiving the Sacraments. Had Dona Lucilia failed to assist entirely this time? With anguished soul, she sat down on the couch in the lobby, facing the elevators, and asked her: “Mother, I know it’s almost impossible, but please get us a priest! Don’t let her die without the last Sacraments!”
At that very moment the door of one of the elevators opened, and inside was a priest, perfectly identifiable by his clerical attire. Their eyes met and, seeing the habit of the Heralds of the Gospel that she was wearing, the priest smiled and waved in an affable greeting. Leaping to her feet, she ran to the elevator before the door closed, because the priest had shown no sign of coming out, and said to him, “Father, please visit my mother! She is dying!”
Magnanimity in providing assistance
In a few words the case was explained to the priest, Fr. Nivaldo Magela Rodrigues, who said that he was just then carrying the Holy Oils to a sick woman hospitalized on the ground floor. It was impressive to see such an immediate response from Dona Lucilia! It was even more impressive to hear the priest say that he had entered the elevator to go downstairs, and did not understand why he had gone up… It was a very clear intervention from Dona Lucilia, confirmed by the priest, who added: “I think I went up because I had to attend to your mother!”
In fact, after overcoming all the obstacles to enter the ICU, the priest, clearly touched, administered the Sacraments with the with the full ceremonial, following all the rubrics, and even granted the plenary indulgence and the apostolic blessing according to the ritual, because Zuleida was truly dying.
The situation remained tense for several days. Nevertheless, the magnanimity of Dona Lucilia’s assistance was complete! After eleven days in the ICU, during which she turned eighty-one, the patient began to show gradual improvement. According to the comments of the team who attended her, she was a living miracle, as, in addition to everything else, she had overcome a hospital infection, pneumonia, pseudomembranous colitis, and pharmacodermia in reaction to the powerful antibiotics. After twenty-six days, she was discharged, having needed several subsequent treatments to overcome the hospital sequelae. Dona Lucilia, however, wanted to grant her full recovery of health, leaving her only a hernia to serve as a reminder of everything that had happened, and her intervention.
In 2017, fully recovered, she was able to celebrate her diamond wedding anniversary – sixty years of marriage – and today, ten years after her crisis, at the age of ninety-one, she is the mainstay of her husband, also a nonagenarian, who suffered a cardiac syncope and a consequent stroke in 2018.
Sr. Juliane concludes her account in this way: “Devotion to Dona Lucilia has only increased over the years in our entire family, and the account given here is nothing more than an expression of deep gratitude to this loving mother.”
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The heart-warming reports transcribed here show how Dona Lucilia, reflection of the goodness of the Heart of Jesus, has helped countless souls who ask for her assistance in moments of affliction. May they serve as a stimulus for us to turn to her help whenever we need it, certain that this good lady will come to our aid, whatever our necessity may be. ◊