San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A mountainous Costa Rican village guarded Pope John Paul II’s miracle

DULCE NOMBRE, Cartago – A modest home in Dulce Nombre de Cartago, a small, mountainous village in central Costa Rica, guards the secret of what happened on May 1, 2011, when Floribeth Mora affirmed that John Paul II cured her brain aneurism.

The miracle, officially recognized on Friday by the Vatican, allows the late pope to be canonized. The date he will obtain sainthood hasn’t yet been announced, but Mora, who has finally broken her silence to tell her story, says she will attend the ceremony.

The day the miracle took place, Mora says the late pope spoke to her, telling her to “get up.” She rose from her bed and went to the kitchen, where she saw her husband, Edwin Arce. But she didn’t tell him what had happened, fearing her spouse of 26 years would think she was hallucinating.

“The next day, she told me, and I told her to believe it was true, because the same thing had happened to me while she was in the hospital,” Arce told AFP.

When Mora was hospitalized after being diagnosed with an incurable aneurism, Mora said he sat on some stairs and cried. It was then that he says he also heard a voice telling him, “Get her up.”

He decided to transfer his wife from the hospital to the couple’s home, because doctors said there was nothing medically they could do to save her. But later, the aneurism would mysteriously disappear, and doctors said there was no medical explanation for Mora’s recovery.

Mora and Arce are a devoutly Catholic couple, as were their parents. She was baptized as Floribeth de Fátima, and he as Edwin de los Angeles, in an era when parents dedicated their children in the name of Catholic saints or virgins.

After marrying, they moved into the neighborhood of Dulce Nombre de La Unión de Cartago, a village whose residents are mostly farmers and laborers.

Floribeth Mora 2

The couple started two small businesses, one a private security company and the other a repair sales shop. They raised four children, including Keyner, 14, the youngest who still lives at home.

Neighbors pass by and look on with curiosity at the journalists who take turns interviewing Mora about her miracle.

“It was very difficult, very tense hiding from the news media,” Mora said. “But my vow of silence was crucial for this process.”

Keeping silent

Miriam Garita believes her. The 28-year-old grew up in the same neighborhood as Mora and knows the couple well.

“We’ve always been close neighbors, and when they asked us not to say anything (about the miracle), we kept silent. But when she was healed, we knew it was a miracle,” Garita said.

Next door to Mora’s house lives the family of Elizabeth Aguilar, 53, who operates the neighborhood’s only pulpería (corner store). While Aguilar’s family is evangelical, she said, “Christ is the same (in any faith), and he’s performing miracles. We must believe.”

However, Aguilar doesn’t believe Pope John Paul II is responsible for the miracle: “God is the only one who can perform miracles,” she said.

Another neighbor, Carlos Fonseca, 83, disagrees. “I go to mass every Sunday, and I believe in all the saints,” he said. He walks to his house and retrieves an image of the Virgin of Ujarrás, a popular religious symbol in that region of Costa Rica.

Mora’s miracle has prompted numerous comments in the news media and on social media networks. But Mora insists, “I am not a spectacle. I just want to testify so that people see the miracle that God performed on me.”

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