Pope Francis announced on July 1 that Blessed John Henry Newman will be decalred a saint on October 13. In order to be accepted for canonization, typically the person in question must have at least two miracles performed through their intercession after their death.
Blessed John Henry Newman’s first accepted miracle involved a Deacon from Massachusetts who was healed of a severe spinal condition.
His second accepted miracle, which led to his canonization, took place in Chicago, Illinois.
Melissa Villalobos, a 42-year-old mother of seven, experienced a life-saving miracle through Newman’s intercession in 2013.
According to Villalobos, in an interview with Chicago Catholic, a couple of years before her miraculous experience, Villalobos’ husband brought home a couple of Cardinal Newman’s holy cards.
“I would pass his picture in the house and I would say little prayers to him for whatever our family’s needs were at the time — the children, my husband, myself. I really started to develop a very constant dialogue with him,” explained Villalobos.
Fast-forward two years, Villalobos would learn how powerful her prayers to Newman would become.
At the time, Villalobos had four children, aged six, five, three and one, and was pregnant with her fifth child. After an ultrasound, she learned her placenta had become partially detatched from the uterine wall. “There was a hole in the placenta and that hole was allowing blood to escape.”
Villalobos then developed a subchronic hematoma, which is a blood clot in the fetal membrane, that was more than twice the size of the baby.
The expecting mother was recommended bed rest.
On Friday, May 10, 2013, Villalobos was rushed to the emergency room. Her bleeding had become worse. The doctors sent her home with strict bed rest orders. They prepared Villalobos and her husband that a miscarriage was likely, and if the baby did survive the pregnancy she would be born premature and be very small.
A few days later, Villalobos, home alone because her husband had a mandatory business trip, woke up in bed with a pool of blood. She decided not to call for an ambulance because she wasn’t sure who would watch her four other children if she was taken to the hospital.
Instead, she made them breakfast and returned upstairs to rest.
“Now the bleeding was really bad because I had just gone up the stairs, which I really shouldn’t have done. I kind of collapsed on the bathroom floor out of weakness and desperation,” she expressed.
Villalobos had no cell phone and could not call for her children to bring it to her. In complete dispair and fear, she began praying.
“Then I said, ‘Please, Cardinal Newman, make the bleeding stop.’ Those were my exact words. Just then, as soon as I finished the sentence, the bleeding stopped.”
Her bleeding completley stopped. “‘Thank you, Cardinal Newman. Thank you.’ [I cried out.] Just then the scent of roses filled the bathroom. The strongest scent of roses I’ve ever smelled.” Villalobos shared. “I thought to myself in that moment, ‘Oh my goodness! My baby is OK. I’m OK. My four children are OK. We’re all OK.’ And I said, ‘Thank you, Cardinal Newman.'”
The doctors confirmed Villalobos was cured with an ultrasound later that day. They told her everything was perfect and there was no longer a hole in the placenta.
“I was able to resume my full active life as a mom,” she said. Her daughter was born full-term with no medical problems.
“I was cured through Newman’s intercession so that I could continue an ordinary life, if you will, but at the same time be completely devoted to him and especially God himself and our church,” Villalobos expressed.
Accordong to the Catholic Herald, representatives from Newman’s case visited Villalobos in fall 2014. The Officials from the Archdiocese of Chicago investigated the then-alleged miracle and forwarded their findings to the Vatican for more investigation. On February 13, Pope Francis announced the miracle was accepted and Cardinal Newman would become a canonized saint.