Our readers now know countless cases of people who, in moments of affliction, asked for Dona Lucilia’s intercession before God and were heard. However, Carla Maria Gonçalves took the opposite route: she called on God, and He sent Dona Lucilia to help her! With compelling simplicity she tells us her story, which started almost twenty-five years ago…
A series of misfortunes
Her family owned a trading company in the Brazilian city of Teresina. In 1998, after the death of her father-in-law, it was discovered that he had left a bad legacy: huge debts, the payment of which led to the seizure of all the family business’ assets by the courts. With this, Carla and her husband were quickly left without even the necessary resources to support their three children, aged five, three and two. As a result, she was forced to leave them in Teresina in the care of their maternal grandmother, so that the couple could seek better employment in the larger city of Fortaleza, moving into to her mother-in-law’s house there for this purpose.
Soon her husband was hired to work in a city in the interior of the state. This led to yet another painful separation, as there were no means for his wife to accompany him. Carla stayed at her mother-in-law’s house. There, however, her life was very hard. She was out all day looking for work, walking long distances, without even enough money for a light meal.
“Those who sow in tears…”
After four months of fruitless searching, Carla was one day feeling particularly disheartened and hungry. It was then that she sat down on a wooden bench in the public square and began to “talk to God” about her sad situation, asking Him for help to get at least enough to eat.
She relates: “There I was, looking up at the sky, when a very distinguished lady appeared in front of me, dressed in black and using a cane, and asked me: ‘My dear, is there a place nearby where can we have a meal?’ I thought: ‘My God! I am hungry, talking to You, and You send me a woman asking me this?’ The woman repeated her question and I answered that there was a restaurant nearby. She then asked me to accompany her there. I offered her my arm for her to lean on and we walked for a block while talking; she smiled, and we went on quietly until the end of the road.”
At the restaurant, the distinguished lady ordered her dish and asked Carla:
“And you, what will you have?”
“No, no, ma’am… I won’t have anything. I don’t even have a penny for food! I’m destitute.”
“My dear, I am not asking you how much you have in your pocket; I am inviting you to lunch with me.”
“…will reap with joy!”
Deeply moved, Carla accepted the invitation. After their meals arrived, the distinguished lady made the sign of the cross and prayed for a long time before starting to eat. They had a pleasant conversation and Carla felt entirely at ease to tell her about all the trials and tribulations that her family was undergoing. The kind lady listened attentively and gave her some precious advice: “My dear, have recourse to Our Lady and great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. They never fail! Confidence! It is at such times that we must draw nearer to them.”
When lunch was over, the two of them walked toward a broad avenue. When they had arrived, Carla asked the lady where she was going. She answered, pointing to the building of the Law Faculty. Carla instinctively turned towards the direction indicated. When she turned back to the lady, she had disappeared. Perplexed, she looked for her nearby but to no avail. She then returned to the restaurant, explained the case to the waiter and they both went out to look for her. They did not find her, but Carla felt very happy and comforted when she returned to her mother-in-law’s house.
Shortly after this auspicious episode, her husband returned to Fortaleza and told her that he was already able to afford a house in the city where he was working. Carla didn’t need more than three days to get a good job herself. In a short time the family was reunited and well settled.
For many years Carla would repeat full of gratitude to her children: “One day I was hungry and Our Lady came to feed me.” She said this because she imagined that this charitable lady was the Blessed Virgin Mary, even though she did not understand why Our Lady, who always appears young in her supernatural manifestations, had appeared to her as an elderly woman.
An unexpected encounter
Some years later, the family began to frequent the house of the Heralds of the Gospel in Fortaleza. In 2018, her eldest daughter received an album containing many photographs of Dona Lucilia. Arriving home, she called her mother to look at it together. What was Carla’s surprise when she came across a photograph of Dona Lucilia wearing a black dress, looking very distinguished and using a cane! She recounts: “I immediately knelt down, started to cry and said: ‘This is the lady who gave me food!’”
This is how Carla was able to identify the discreet and kind lady who had supported and counselled her in a moment of extreme distress. She went immediately to the house of the Heralds, where she told the whole story to the priest who lived there. He assured her that the lady’s maternal manner and affection left no doubt that she was indeed Dona Lucilia.
Carla closes her account with this expressive testimony: “It was then that I understood that Dona Lucilia had been protecting our family for many years, because there were many opportunities for us to go astray, and to lose our faith, but she accompanied us. The advice she gave me on that occasion still echoes in my heart to this day and sustains me in many adversities.”
Rare and very aggressive cancer
Carla herself also recounts how, recently, Dona Lucilia obtained from God another great favour: the full recovery of a niece of hers, Maria Isabela Moura Pinto.
She tells us that in mid-July of 2021, Maria Isabela, who was only six years old at the time, was diagnosed with a brain neoplasm, of a size and density that indicated the worst. Two days later, this fear was confirmed when a clinical oncologist, a specialist in brain tumours in children, pronounced the following evaluation: it was a rare and very aggressive form of cancer, which should be removed as soon as possible; the surgery, however, was very risky, because invasive procedures of this type could leave sequela such as blindness, paralysis or other disabilities.
Then the first difficulty arose: finding a surgeon in Teresina who was an expert in that field, and who would agree to perform the operation. This task was left to Maria Isabela’s mother. Carla, for her part, started looking for a priest, since her niece had not yet been baptized. Meanwhile, Maria Isabela experienced severe headaches and was hospitalized to receive the necessary medication.
Finally, when the required specialist had been found, he scheduled her for immediate surgery, since the tumour was growing rapidly. However, they still needed someone to administer the Sacrament of Baptism for Maria Isabela… Having exhausted all efforts to find a minister, Carla received advice from a priest friend who lived in another state, to the effect that in this case, anyone could administer Baptism to the girl as a matter of urgency. On the eve of her surgery, she was baptized by her mother, while Carla entrusted her to the care of Dona Lucilia.
The procedure was expected to last eight hours, but, to the surprise of the family, it was successfully completed within five hours. After two days in the ICU, Maria Isabela was transferred to a room and was discharged in short order. As the results of the tests on the excised tumour took a long time to arrive, the paediatric oncologist decided to start chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“Thank you Dona Lucilia!”
The difficulties and adverse reactions proper to these gruelling treatments were bravely overcome by Maria Isabela, while her aunt continued the prayers to Dona Lucilia.
In February 2022, the girl returned to the hospital to have some routine examinations. While there, her eyesight suddenly failed and she could no longer see. Judging that the tumour had returned even more aggressively, the doctors quickly admitted her.
On hearing the news, Carla immediately prayed in front of a picture of Dona Lucilia, asking that if it was God’s will that her niece become blind, that He would at least grant her the grace of contemplating a picture of the Blessed Virgin for one last time. She then asked two Brothers of the Heralds of the Gospel who were passing through Teresina to take the Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the hospital.
Shortly thereafter, Carla received a call from her sister stating that Maria Isabela’s vision was beginning to return. When the two missionaries arrived at the hospital, the girl received them sitting up in bed, with normal vision, and prayed with them to Our Lady. From then on her sight has not failed again.
Maria Isabela was still undergoing her chemotherapy sessions. On April 7, she had a strong reaction to the treatment. What a surprise for her mother, however, when she heard from the doctor that the girl did not need to return to hospital: she was cured, and the medications had consequently caused such a reaction.
Carla’s joy was great when she heard the good news, as she tells us: “When my sister told me, I was in the car, on my way to an appointment, and I expressed my gratitude out loud: Thank you Dona Lucilia!”
Immediate solution to a distressing problem
On August 19, 2022, Bernardo José Eger – five-year-old son of Kevin and Dailane Eger, residents of São Paulo – had to be admitted as an emergency patient due to disturbing convulsions. He arrived at the hospital almost unconscious, with his motor coordination seriously impaired. After analysing the various tests performed to identify the cause of the convulsions, a doctor told them that, in addition to other characteristic symptoms, the boy’s rigid neck indicated the possibility of meningitis. A few hours later, another specialist confirmed his colleague’s dreaded evaluation and requested an examination of the cerebrospinal fluid, to verify the progression of the disease and determine the appropriate treatment.
Dailane relates: “When the doctor confirmed the diagnosis and asked for the cerebrospinal fluid examination, at that very moment we placed Bernardo into the hands of Dona Lucilia Corrêa de Oliveira, Dr. Plinio’s mother, to whom we have a special devotion.”
After an hour of anxiety and prayers, Kevin and Dailane were summoned to be informed of the result of the examination. She recounts: “To the surprise of the medical team, as well as ours, the fluid showed no alteration whatsoever. The medical evaluation, which had already been done twice, was repeated a third time, with the same good result: no neck rigidity, the fever had diminished, everything was normalized. It was a miracle worked by the intercession of Dona Lucilia!”
Bernardo had to remain in hospital for a few more days for medical “investigations” in which he was found to be totally normal and healthy. “On August 24 we returned home as if nothing had happened. Praise be to God and Our Lady in their Angels and Saints! Thank you Dona Lucilia,” concludes Dailane.
A desolate outlook
In January 2020, Maysa Harumi Bertoni was six months pregnant with her daughter Cecilia, and up until then everything had been normal. However, an obstetric ultrasound examination with Doppler Flowmetry revealed the existence of two pseudocysts in the baby’s brain region.
This was disturbing news for Maysa and her husband Nilson Bertoni Junior, residents in São Paulo – especially considering that the couple had not been successful in their previous pregnancy. They began to recite a daily rosary of aspirations together, asking for the intervention of Dona Lucilia to free the baby of the pseudocysts, as long as this was in accordance with the designs of Divine Providence.
The obstetrician responsible for the case requested the repetition of the same examination every fortnight, in order to follow the evolution of the pseudocysts. In all the examinations the presence of the two growths was identified; however, the doctor opted to only take any action after the birth of the baby. As time went by, the parents’ affliction increased, but they continued to fervently recite the daily rosaries of aspirations, asking for the intervention of their kindly intercessor.
Cecilia was born on April 6. Because of the pregnancy history, the obstetrician ordered another ultrasound examination in order to check the status of the pseudocysts. “The results were the same, now with a diagnosis of choroid plexus cysts, and referral to neurosurgery was indicated,” recounts Nilson. This bad news in no way shook the confidence of the family, who remained firm in the recitation of the rosaries of aspirations. Three months later, as soon as it was possible to carry out the planned surgical intervention, the neurologist requested another ultrasound of the brain for a precise evaluation.
Nilson tells us: “On July 31, after a thorough, detailed and meticulous examination, the doctor presented the following result: ‘Ultrasonographic study of the encephalon with no evidence of abnormalities.’ Through the intercession of the very kind Dona Lucilia, the grace had been obtained.”
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May the above facts serve to reinforce and increase in us the conviction that Dona Lucilia, with her characteristic goodness and maternal compassion, always comes to the aid of those who, trusting in God, know how to invoke her in their needs. ◊