Maria Esposito has come to Rome to tell the Church and the world about the man she believes saved her life from deadly cancer – Pope Pius XII.
“I’m convinced of this. I’m convinced that my healing was a grace, thanks to Pope Pius XII and his intercession. I was listened to. All of us who prayed were heard - so many of us,” the 42-year-old teacher told EWTN News.
Pope Pius XII occupied the papacy from 1939 until his death in 1958. He first came into the life of Maria and her husband Umberto after she was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma – a type of leukemia – in July 2005.
“When I saw that my wife continued to be sick, I started to pray to John Paul II who had died April 2, 2005,” Umberto said. The couple has traveled to Rome together from their family home in Castellammare di Stabia, a coastal town near Naples in southern Italy.
“One night he was in my dream, and he was sad. He didn't speak to me but he began to show me these figures, these cards with images of churches and saints on them. In the end, he stopped at one photograph on which there was a priest dressed in black, in a black tunic with a small cap on his head. He had glasses and was very thin.”
“And, there, he stopped so as to say, you should turn to this person to have a response.”
Umberto said he didn’t know who the figure was until his mother visited two weeks later, carrying a copy of a Catholic magazine with a story about Pope Pius XII.
“As soon as I saw this photo of the face of the Pope, I told Maria ‘This is the person John Paul II indicated. We should turn to him with our prayers.’”
The married couple said that from there on out things just got better and better, to the point that after just one course of chemotherapy the cancer had completely disappeared.
“When we spoke with the first doctor and asked if this was a miracle, he said, 'No, no, no, let's not talk about these things,” said Umberto.
“They don't believe in these things,” added Maria.
The suggestion of a miracle is made all the more controversial because the healing is being credited to Pope Pius XII. His critics accuse him of not taking a stand against Nazi persecution of the Jews. The charge is strongly denied by his supporters who claim Pope Pius saved the lives of over 5,000 Jews in Rome alone.
Maria and Umberto are in Rome to publicly support the creation a museum in the city dedicated to the wartime Pope, an idea that is also backed by the Mayor of Rome.
Meanwhile, as the miracle claim is being investigated by the Church, the married couple is convinced that Pope Pius XII has changed their family life for the better.
“In my heart, I think that even if, in the end, it wasn't a miracle from Pius XII that saved my wife, a miracle was done by Pius XII because myself, our family and her family to bring us back to our religion,” Umberto said.
“It's not the case that we weren't Catholic but me, for example, I only went to church sporadically, I only prayed a bit. After this event, though, I never miss Mass and we pray together in the morning.”