Miracle: Padre Pio and Bishop Karol Wojtyla joined in prayer for this woman
At the beginning of October 1962, when Bishop Karol Wojtyla, Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, was leaving for Rome to attend the first session of the Second Vatican Council, his friend, and collaborator, the psychiatrist Wanda Poltawska, was tormented by intermittent nocturnal pains. He supported her with prayers and continuous epistolary exhortations: “Do everything as you told me, the important thing is not to delay what is necessary. Your health is important to many, especially those closest to you. Myself, among them”.
The diagnosis came on the last day of the month. The colleague, a doctor, who had performed the clinical examination, told her that in the last part of the colon there was “a hard mass, with ulceration”, but that “it could be inflammatory and not necessarily a tumor”. Wanda, as a doctor, analyzing her symptoms, immediately dismissed the hypothesis of inflammation and projected that the cancer would allow her to live at most “two, three years at the most”.
She reacted with a surprising “calmness” and, disturbed only by the thought that her four daughters were still children, she agreed to undergo the surgery, assuming that it would have a devastating outcome. She would do it for her family, she told herself at first, but then she thought, “I’ve turned forty-one. Old enough, but not old enough to die.”
She told no one. Not even her husband, Andrzej, knew. She only wrote to her bishop friend, who encouraged her to carry out what she had already decided: “I want to encourage you, as best I can, to fight for your health and your life,” Bishop Wojtyla wrote to her. And, almost as if to put God’s seal on his words, he added: “What I am writing comes from prayer. This time, however, Msgr. Wojtyla did not limit himself to committing his invocations to the Lord, but added a promise: “I ask and will ask others to do so.”
Finally, he urged her to share the “secret” with her husband. Wanda obeyed. She talked about it with Andrzej, who burst into tears. Then she went to talk to the surgeon, with whom she also set the date for the surgery. Two days before she was admitted to the hospital on Saturday the 17th, she underwent further tests.
On the same day, the auxiliary bishop of Krakow, Bishop Karol Wojtyla, fulfilled his promise. He wrote a letter to Padre Pio, after finding a way to have it delivered to him, in which he asked him to “address a prayer for a forty-year-old mother of four daughters from Krakow in Poland (who during the last war suffered in a concentration camp in Germany), now in grave danger of health and life itself due to cancer: that God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, may show his mercy to her and her family.”
Msgr. Wojtyla entrusted those few lines to his former seminary classmate, Msgr. Andrzej Maria Deskur, in service at the Holy See, who sent them to the addressee through Commendatore Angelo Battisti, typist of the Holy Office and, at the same time, administrator of the Casa Sollievo Della Sofferenza (in San Giovanni Rotondo). The next day, the letter reached the stigmata hands of the Capuchin who only commented: “To this one cannot say no”. He then begged Battisti “to assure him that he would pray a lot for this mother”.
On November 22, shortly before entering the operating room, Wanda underwent her last rectoscopy, which, unlike the previous ones, did not cause her any pain. This phenomenon was soon explained: “The ulceration has disappeared, only a slightly reddened mucosa remains.
There will be no surgery, the deterioration has disappeared,” the doctors informed her. The patient remained astonished and incredulous, but she had to surrender to the confirmation coming from her body, for even the twinges, which tormented her for weeks, were gone.
Andrzej quickly sent a telegram to Rome to communicate the unexpected evolution to Monsignor Wojtyla who, during a break in the Council, on November 28, taking pen and paper in hand, wrote a second letter to the Capuchin of San Giovanni Rotondo: “Venerable Father, the woman from Krakow in Poland, mother of four daughters, on November 21, before the surgery, instantly recovered her health thanks to God and also to You, Venerable Father. I give you the greatest thanks on her behalf, on behalf of her husband and the whole family”.
The woman, meanwhile, did not have the courage to say, even to herself, “this is a miracle.”. In fact, she struggled to push away such a thought, for it frightened her.
She was “afraid of divine omnipotence and the consequences of God’s love,” she said. Andrzej, for his part, was happy and, failing to understand his wife’s feelings, would say to her, “Rejoice.” . But she replied: “I cannot rejoice, I am not mature enough to accept the miracle. I am afraid. I am afraid of feeling greedy for God’s love.”
Even in this situation, her bishop friend came to her rescue from afar. As if from 1,500 kilometers away he could feel Wanda’s state of mind, on November 26 he wrote to her.:
“You have to seek somehow to put this grace in the order of life, slowly discovering more and more, deepening its meaning for your whole life and vocation”.
Miracle: Padre Pio and Bishop Karol Wojtyla joined in prayer for this woman. Read the original Spanish version here.