Recovered Argentine woman reflects on late pope’s Vatican-confirmed miracle

By Veronica Dalto

Buenos Aires, Oct 21 (EFE).- Candela Giarda, a young Argentine woman, smiles when she recalls the potentially fatal brain pathology that nearly ended her life a decade ago.

Suffering from a severe form of inflammatory encephalopathy, she was healed through the intercession of late Pope John Paul I (1912-1978), according to a Vatican decree on Oct. 13 that recognized the miracle and announced his forthcoming beatification.

“Was I left with any lasting impact? Not at all. I’m fine, more than fine,” Giarda said in an interview with Efe. “They’re miracles that happen.”

She said she and her mother, 47-year-old Roxana Sosa, were “deeply moved” by the news of the upcoming beatification of John Paul I, who was born Albino Luciani and died of an apparent heart attack just 33 days into his papacy.

Giarda was 11 years old when she contracted a serious brain illness in March 2011 and had to be taken from her home city of Parana, capital of the northeastern Argentine province of Entre Rios, to Buenos Aires’ Fundacion Favaloro University Hospital.

After her condition continued to deteriorate, the doctors told Sosa on July 22, 2011, that her daughter had no prospects for recovery and would not survive the night.

Sosa went to the hospital’s parish church, where she had frequently gone to pray, and asked Father Jose Dabusti to give her daughter his blessing.

The priest found the girl in dire condition and proposed to her mother that they ask God to heal her through the intercession of the late Pope John Paul I, who was known for his cheerful demeanor and nicknamed the “smiling pope.”

To the great surprise of the doctors and nurses, Giarda’s condition had slightly improved by the following morning and she made further progress in the ensuing days. She was released from intensive care in August 2011 and was discharged from the hospital a month later.

Giarda was then transferred back to Parana for further rehabilitation and spent nearly a year in the fetal position while re-learning how to eat, walk and speak. In 2013, her convulsions stopped and she was taken off medication. She then recovered her speech and memory the following year.

“As far as how the whole process unfolded, I don’t remember anything. I remember when I was little, before the virus took hold of me,” the young woman said.

Now 21, Giarda lives in Parana with her mother and one of her sisters, frequently goes to the gym and is pursuing a university degree in animal safety and hygiene. An animal lover, she has two dogs and would like to own her own farm.

When Dabusti saw Giarda walking and talking in 2014, he was very surprised and suggested to Sosa that they write to Pope Francis and inform him about the case.

After a thorough study, the Vatican last week announced that Francis had approved the miracle attributed to the last Italian pontiff. Another miracle still must be attributed to Pope John Paul I for him to be elevated to sainthood.

Giarda said she and her mother expect to participate next year in the beatification ceremony at the Vatican, where they will carry the late pope’s relics to the altar.

She added that they both continue to pray for John Paul I’s intercession.

“We’re very close to him now. He’s part of us. We’re very grateful to him,” Giarda said. EFE


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