Paris, France, Mar 30, 2007 / 10:13 am
“All I can tell you is that I was sick and now I am cured. It is for the church to say and to recognize whether it is a miracle,” so said the 46 year-old Religious Sister who many think may have been miraculously cured through the intercession of the late Pope John Paul II. The French nun, the identity of whom was unknown to the world until this week, spoke to the press in today.
According to the Associated Press, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre stopped short of declaring her recovery a miracle, saying that was for the church to decide. But she said her life "totally changed" after her symptoms vanished in one night of prayer and mystery in 2005.
Smiling broadly, the French nun, whose claims could be accepted as the miracle that the Vatican needs to Beatify Pope John Paul II, said Friday that she was inexplicably and suddenly "cured" of Parkinson's disease - thanks to him.
"I am cured. It is the work of God, through the intercession of Pope John Paul II," told Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, smiling broadly before a barrage of television cameras.
"It's something very strong, very difficult to put into words," she told reporters in the southern French city of Aix en Provence.
Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre had been suffering from Parkinson's, a degenerative disease of the nervous system, since 2001, but has testified that she was cured in the night of June 2, 2005 after praying to John Paul II, whose final years were also marked by the disease.
The nun recounted how she had suddenly been able to write legibly after struggling for months to hold a pen, the disease having progressed to the point that she no longer controlled motion in her hand.
"I came across a sister who had helped me tremendously and I told her as I held up my hand, my left hand, 'look, my hand is no longer trembling'," she said. "John Paul II cured me."
"Since then I have not taken any treatment. My life has completely changed -- it was like a second birth for me," she added.
Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre said that her symptoms has steadily grown worse since her diagnosis with Parkinson’s in 2001. Driving became practically impossible, she had difficulty walking, and her left arm hung limply at her side. She also could no longer bear to see John Paul on television, because he, too, was stricken - more seriously - with the disease.
When seeing him, "I saw myself in the years to come, to be honest, in a wheelchair," she said.
Then, on the night of June 2, 2005, exactly two months after the pontiff's death, she said. In her room after evening prayers, she said an inner voice urged her to take up her pen and write. She did, and was surpassed to see that her handwriting - which had grown illegible because of her illness - was clear. She said she then went to bed, and woke early the next morning feeling "completely transformed."
"I was no longer the same inside. It is difficult for me to explain to you in words ... It was too strong, too big. A mystery."
"I realized that my body was no longer the same," she added. "I was convinced that I was cured."
Described by her colleagues as a gentle, reserved woman who had hoped to keep her identity under wraps, the nun coped well with the media spotlight. She looked a little bemused as journalists huddled around her, putting their microphones in place. Only once, when describing how her symptoms worsened after the Pope died on April 2, 2005, did she momentarily lose a little of her poise.
"Please excuse me, I'm a little emotional," she said.
Convincing evidence of a miracle -- usually a medical cure with no scientific explanation -- is essential in the beatification process, the first step to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Rome diocese's website carries dozens of testimonials from individuals claiming cures at the hands of the late Pope, but to qualify as a miracle the recovery must be sudden, complete and permanent -- as well as inexplicable by doctors.
The nun is expected to travel to Rome for ceremonies marking the second anniversary of the Pontiff's death and the closure of a church investigation into his life. Pope Benedict XVI waived the customary five-year waiting period for the procedure to begin, clearly in response to popular demand that began with chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Now!" erupting during John Paul's 2005 funeral.