The man who experienced a miraculous healing in 1956 through the intercession of St. Martin de Porres, shared details about the incident as Peru celebrates the 50th anniversary of the canonization of the Dominican saint.
In an interview from Spain with the Peruvian daily El Comercio, Antonio Cabrera Pérez-Camacho recalled that everything began with a childhood prank on August 25, 1956 while on vacation in the city of Garachico.
“I was a very mischievous boy and I was walking with another boy who had a bar of soap. I took it from him and threw it into a house that was under construction. He began to cry and said his father punish him. I said, 'Don’t worry, I’ll go find it.'”
As he was climbing the roof of the structure, a 60-pound cement block came loose. “I fell to the ground and the block fell on top of me. My left leg was crushed,” Antonio said.
After doctors examined him, they determined there was no blood following to his leg and that gangrene was beginning to set in. “They pulled off pieces of rotten flesh,” he recalled.
Despite undergoing days of treatment, his condition remained the same. On August 31, doctors said his leg would have to be amputated, as the boy was also beginning to show signs of hepatitis and blood poisoning.
However, on Sept. 1 of that year “a relative of mine named Adolfo Luque arrived from Las Palmas. He told my mother Berta: 'There is nothing left to do here except pray. I am very devoted to Blessed Martin de Porres and I have a lot of faith in him. I want to give you this holy card because the only thing left to do is to pray.'”
“My mother, who was very religious, put the holy card on my leg and she prayed the entire night,” Antonio said. “The next day, when the doctors came to take me to surgery, they removed the bandages and were shocked to find my condition had radically changed.”
“There was circulation in my leg, and they said there was no need to amputate anything. And that’s what happened. A few days later I was sent him. The only long-term effect was the scar. Everything else was normal.”
On Sept. 2, Doctor Miguel Lopez confirmed that as he was preparing for the amputation, he discovered an improvement in Antonio’s condition that was unusual and inexplicable. By Sept. 7, Antonio was released from the hospital.
News of the miraculous cure reached the Dominicans, who decided to begin an investigation to determine if it would count as the second miracle needed for the canonization of then-Blessed Martin, who lived and worked among Peru's impoverished in the 16th century. The first miracle was the healing of an elderly woman in Paraguay in 1948.
“The ecclesial stage was very intense. The bishop (Domingo Perez Caceres) forbade us to speak of the matter under pain of excommunication. A tribunal was formed and emissaries arrived from Rome. Because I was just a child, they asked me only a few questions, but they interviewed my parents for hours and hours. It seemed like a police interrogation,” Antonio recalled.
He noted that the testimony of Dr. Angel Capote, an avowed atheist, was key. “He said that from a medical point of view there was no explanation for what had happened. And Angel died an extraordinary Christian because what had happened led to his conversion.”
Six years later, on May 6, 1962, Pope John XXIII canonized Blessed Martin de Porres. Antonio was about to turn 12 and was invited to the ceremony. “Everything was so solemn. There were people from Africa, America, Asia, it was very ecumenical,” he said.
He recalled that John XXIII told him he had to be “an example for the rest of the world. With the miracle comes responsibility. You are still a child, but you will understand this as you grow older.” “And as he said, now I understand,” Antonio told the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio May 6.
In 1963 he was invited for a meeting with the Peruvian government. “It was amazing. The television, the newspapers. I have very fond memories. Before dying I would like to go back to Peru once more. When I was before the tomb of Martin, I prayed for health, peace and love,” he said.
Now, as a dental surgeon, Antonio said he has been “influenced by St. Martin, who was a healer and who pulled teeth out. Here he is the patron saint of barbers, who at that time were also surgeons,” he noted.
According to El Comercio, Father Vicente Cruz, who participated in the ecclesial investigation, said the tribunal “named two doctors to review the condition of Antonio’s leg. The testimony was typed out and then two copies were made by hand. The process was very rigorous (…) The testimony of the doctors was very important. They testified that this case surpassed existing medical knowledge.
The priest explained that once the diocesan phase ended the report was sent to Rome. “Antonio completely recovered. At 12 years of age he was playing soccer, and he was just as good with his right leg as with his left.”