Maria Mercedes Correa Maldonado, a 23 year-old Chilean woman who in explicably “woke up” from cerebral palsy when she was 18, is now pregnant, in what could be the second miracle attributed to Italian seminarian Nicola D’Onofrio (1943-1964), whose cause of beatification is open in the Diocese of Rome.
Maria Mercedes suffered from grave cerebral palsy but on a March afternoon on 2003, after her mother had incessantly prayed to the Italian seminarian for his intercession, she woke up in her hospital bed in Puataendo, sat up and said, “I’m hungry.”
Inexplicable from a medical point of view, the case drew the attention of the Sons of St. Camillus, who are following D’Onofrio’s beatification process in Rome, which began in 2000.
Now, five years after her miraculous recovery, Maria Mercedes says she is experiencing a new miracle from D’Onofrio, as she has become pregnant despite doctors’ diagnoses that it would be impossible. “All the specialists who examined her came to the conclusion that she could never have any children. But now she is pregnant. It is a new miracle,” her mother said.
“I realized she could be pregnant; I took her to the doctor and tests confirmed it. For me, this is the second miracle by Nicola, a way of closing Maria Mercedes’ cycle of recovery,” she told the Chilean daily “El Mercurio.”
“I feel good and I’m happy about this new stage in my life and happy to know that my son is going to be born healthy. I’m a little bit afraid to go back to the hospital even though I spent eighteen years there,” Maria Mercedes told “El Mercurio.”
Nicola D’Onofrio joined the Order of St. Camillus at the age of 17. He was know for his deep devotion, which led his spiritual director to ask him to write a diary in order to keep a record of his experiences of the love of God for others to read. Towards the end of 1962, he suffered the first symptoms of cancer that would end his life at the age of 21.
He bore his illness with heroism and enthusiasm and inspired joy and fervor in his fellow students. His superiors, seeing that his end was near, asked for a dispensation from the Holy See to allow him to make his perpetual profession, which Nicola longed for. On May 28, 1964, he made is perpetual vows.
On June 12, 1964, after a full of day of prayer, Nicola met with his brother religious and encouraged them to follow him on “the path towards eternity.” Nicola passed away in the evening of the same day.
The remains of the Servant of God are buried at Bucchianico, near the crypt of St. Camillus, a popular pilgrimage destination.