San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican miracle could be key to sainthood for Pope John Paul II

The approval of a Costa Rican woman’s “inexplicable” recovery as a miracle could be the last test in the canonization of Pope John Paul II, several news sources reported on Tuesday.

According to the ANSA news agency, the Vatican Congregation on the Causes of Saints, the body charged with investigating miracles, has reportedly approved the recovery of a Costa Rican woman from Cartago as a miracle attributed to the late pope. The BBC reported that the congregation called the recovery “inexplicable” and attributed the healing to the Polish pontiff’s intervention.

Despite reports from several international news outlets, however, at this writing there is still no official word from the Vatican regarding the supposed miracle, the Costa Rican daily La Nación noted.

The supposed miracle took place on May 1, 2011, when an aneurism found in the woman’s brain disappeared without explanation, the same day as the beatification ceremony for John Paul II took place in St. Peter’s Square.

The woman came to the Calerdón Guardia Hospital in San José complaining of a headache. Diagnostic tests later revealed the presence of an aneurism, a bubble-like bulge on a blood vessel, in her brain. Neurosurgeon Alejandro Vargas Román told the newspaper that later tests could find no sign of the aneurism and that he had no scientific explanation for its disappearance. 

Pope Francis must still give his final approval to the congregation’s decision with a written decree and set a date for the canonization.

For healings to be considered miracles they must be instantaneous, permanent and with no scientific explanation. The first miracle attributed to John Paul II involved the healing of a French nun, Sister Marie Simón-Pierre, whose recovery from Parkinson’s disease after praying for the late pope’s “intercession” had no medical explanation.

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