Canonization of Monsignor Óscar Romero: Cecilia Flores, the miracle woman for whom the Vatican made the Salvadoran martyr holy.
“Mommy, is it true that you were dying in the hospital?” Rebecca asked Cecilia.
Rebecca is the daughter of the marriage between Cecilia Flores and Alejandro Rivas. The little girl is 5 years old and a curiosity that overflows from question to question.
“Is it true, is it true?” He repeated insistently. At that moment, Cecilia did not know what to answer: “Yes, you know that I got sick,” she said and without further ado, the girl continued to play with Luis, her 3-year-old brother.
Cecilia is the woman that the Vatican recognizes as the recipient of the miracle that allowed the canonization of Monsignor Óscar Romero on Sunday, whom Pope Francis declared blessed in 2015.
Monseñor Romero, who was murdered in March 1980 while offering a mass, was declared a martyr of the church, so it was only necessary to confirm a miracle and not two, as the normal procedure dictates.
A few days before his trip to Rome, in a parlor separated from the parish “Blessed Óscar Romero Obispo y Mártir” in San Salvador prior to the start of the seven o’clock mass, the couple tells BBC Mundo their story.
Emergency cesarean section
“Let’s start because there is little left for mass,” says Alejandro and sits next to his wife. The three children play around their parents. Rebecca does not lose attention of the conversation.
“Wherever he sees her, he’s listening to us,” Cecilia says. She is the couple’s second daughter, who lost four pregnancies before Luis , her third child, was born.
All were high-risk pregnancies. “They are four little angels who take care of us from the sky,” Cecilia says, raising her gaze slightly.
With fear, the couple ventured to one last attempt that went through all the complications but managed to move forward.
It was August 28, 2015 when, through an emergency cesarean, Luis Carlos came to this world.
The doctors had diagnosed Cecilia with preeclampsia and after the birth her health went from bad to worse.
“Medically there was little to do”
An intense abdominal pain made him go back to the hospital. The doctors performed numerous tests that confirmed a progressive damage in the liver and kidneys.
The diagnosis was that Cecilia suffered from Hellp syndrome (the acronym for Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes and Low Platelet count or Hemolysis , Elevated Liver Enzymes and Low Platelet Count ) that, among other damages, causes kidney failure and liver hemorrhage.
To stabilize it, the doctors of the General Hospital of the Salvadoran Social Security Institute (ISSS), where she was hospitalized, decided to practice an induced coma.
The medical part included in the archives that the Salvadoran church sent to the Vatican to support the cause of the miracle of Monsignor Romero relates that ” medically there was little to do for Cecilia at that time .”
“In the opinion of the specialists, it was a syndrome that would have necessarily led to death,” confirms Monsignor Enrique Alvear Urrutia, who along with Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez was one of the main managers of Romero’s canonization cause.
“It was a sincere prayer”
On the afternoon of August 29, 2015, the day after the birth, Alejandro, husband of Cecilia, resigned by the serious situation in which his wife was, decided that the only thing left to do was pray.
Lying on the ground, his strength almost exhausted, he took a B iblia that had once belonged to his grandmother and among its pages found a picture of Monsignor Romero , who by then had been declared blessed.
Printed on the back was the prayer that the Salvadoran church distributed during the beatification to ask for the intercession of the martyred bishop.
“Actually, I did not declare myself a follower of Romero,” Alejandro recounts, recalling that, with the picture of the blessed in his hands, he began to recite that prayer for the health of his wife. “It was a sincere prayer,” he says.
Without knowing it at that moment and almost at the same moment, Melvin Rubio, close friend of the family, prayed the same prayer for the health of Cecilia from the crypt of the Metropolitan Cathedral of San Salvador, where the remains of Monsignor Romero rest.
Awakening of the coma
Little time passed for Cecilia to wake up from the coma and her health began to improve with a speed that amazed the doctors.
Cecilia had lost four pregnancies before Luis was born.
Among them, Armando Lucha, the doctor in charge of the clinical picture who, speaking to reporters, said that no e ra usual that a patient present ara damage to vital organs, as had Cecilia, and salt ier to the hospital walking .
It was on September 10, 2015 when she awoke from a coma and, out of danger, she was able to reunite with her husband, her baby and her two older children: Rebeca and Emiliano.
Upon hearing the news, Melvin and his wife Karla tried to convince the couple to tell their story to the church authorities who had already begun to request cases that could be considered in the cause of canonization of Blessed Romero, as both were convinced that it was a miracle because of his intercession.
“At first we did not plan to talk because we did not think it was something so important,” says Cecilia. “If you do not do it, we do it,” recalls Melvin, who told the couple.
Thus, the story also reached the ears of Monsignor Urrutia, who insisted on Cecilia and Alejandro in sharing their testimony, convinced that this would be the key to raise Romero to the altars, although on his table there were other cases in consideration .
“In the opinion of the doctors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in other cases the disease could easily have been repeated and that disqualifies them as such,” declares Urrutia.
“I have a physical test”
“We never had any doubts about the event,” says Cecilia and her husband complements it: “Our reward is that she is alive,” says Alejandro.
With that idea in mind, in March of 2016, they came to offer their first statement and the document began a long process of verification in which several interviews, witnesses and medical records were necessary that, little by little, opened the doors of the canonization.
Wednesday March 7, 2018, while preparing breakfast for her family, Cecilia received a message on his cell phone: ” El Vatican Monsignor Romero holy will .”
After giving thanks in silence, he prepared his youngest son and went to the crypt of the Cathedral of San Salvador to give thanks to the blessed himself.
” I did not need nor the Vatican and no one came to tell us that this was a miracle , ” says Cecilia and her husband again complements. “I have a physical proof that God acts in our lives,” he says, and discreetly takes the hand of his wife.
“Miracles are for you to know”
The morning that it was announced that Monsignor Romero would be holy, Cecilia arrived at the crypt of the Cathedral of San Salvador and went unnoticed by the journalists who were already waiting for her there.
By then, no one knew her identity and she preferred it to be so. With Luis in his arms and with the tranquility of anonymity, he went down the stairs and walked to the Blessed’s altar. He got on his knees and raised a prayer.
Only a couple of journalists who knew her beforehand approached her after leaving the temple.
One of Cecilia’s biggest fears was just exposing herself too much to the cameras. For her, the most important thing is that it is recognized that ” who is going to stay in the rightful place is Monsignor Romero “.
For a moment, she looks back at her husband and returns to her words: “Miracles are for the world to know them.”
“Instrument of peace”
Cecilia and her husband trust that after Romero’s canonization, his story and the events that lead him to be a saint remain in the memory of Salvadorans and the entire world.
“Hopefully one day they will stop using it as a political instrument and begin to see it as an instrument of peace, ” says Alejandro.
Both agree that for a long time they stopped asking themselves the reasons why they were chosen to be recipients of a miracle, but they are convinced that it is their duty to transmit the message of resurrection from the death that, according to them, Monsignor Romero wanted to transmit through Cecilia
“How long ago was Lazaro’s and we’re still talking about that?” He asks the air with a sudden outburst. “This is going to continue, I’m going to die and people will continue talking about Cecilia’s case,” he says.
Take Rebeca by the hand and Luis in her arms. The mass is about to begin.
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