For months now, the news of Dafne Gutierrez's remarkable cure from complete blindness has stunned the parish community of St Joseph Maronite Catholic church in Phoenix, Arizona, inspiring people from around the country to visit the Church where the reported "miracle" has taken place.
In 1999 when she was just thirteen years old, Dafne Gutierrez---who is now a 30 year old mother of three young children---was officially diagnosed with a medical condition called Idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). One of the effects of this illness is that it in turn often causes a condition called Papilledema in which pressure in the brain is very high, adversely affecting the optic nerves, which in some cases like Dafne's eventually leads to complete blindness.
|Dafne Gutierrez and her family|
Interestingly, later that same day Dafne's sister-in-law called her and told her that she has seen a poster advertising the visit of the relics, and she wanted Dafne and her husband to go with her. At that time the relics of St Charbel were on a nationwide tour of the USA to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the beatification of the great Lebanese Saint and miracle-worker.
After Mass and the veneration of St Charbel's relic celebrated by the parish priest, Father Wissam Akiki, her sister-in-law helped her to the confessional. After confession, Fr. Akiki was told about her blindness, he then blessed her with holy oil touched to the first-class relic of St Sharbel, praying specifically for her to be cured. Fr. Wissam told her that he would be praying for her and that "I would get my vision back". Afterwards he said to Dafne's daughter: "Don't worry, your mom will see again."
Also, when Father Akiki was praying for her and was blessing her with the St Charbel holy oil, she suddenly "...felt very strongly that someone was standing next to me on my right side."
For his part, Father Akiki states: "I put my hand on her head, then on both eyes, and I asked God to heal her through the intercession of St Charbel.”
After the prayers and blessing of the holy oil, Dafne asked her sister-in-law "Who was that standing next to me, on my right side?" Her sister-in-law replied "There was no one standing next to you other than Fr. Akiki." To this day, Dafne is not sure who was standing next to her at that moment, but she knows "someone" was there.
|Dafne Gutierrez, Father Wissam Akiki and Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan, Maronite Catholic bishop of Los Angeles, CA|
That same Sunday evening at 4:00am in the morning she suddenly awoke with her eyes burning "They were like burning--really burning" and her head hurt "like after an operation", so she frantically woke her husband exclaiming that they were burning---he replied "They can't be because you have no sensation in your eyes!" He then put his hands on her eyes and noticed they felt hot and he said "They are vibrating and moving" and he also noticed a strong smell like "burning meat". She then realized that in the glow of the nightlight that she could actually see her husband very vaguely--like a shadow. She shouted "I can see you! I can see you with both of my eyes! I started crying...I wiped my eyes and then opened them again to see if I really could see, and I could."
"I could not believe it. I did not want to close my eyes,” she stated afterwards in an interview. “My children were shouting: ‘Mom can see! God healed mom!’
Within 48 hours (precisely three days since her weekend visit to venerate the relics) her sight was completely restored to 20/20 vision, as was confirmed on that day by an ophthalmologist, and later by several other physicians.
|Press Conference on February 18, 2016|
At the very least, the physicians felt that even if she had regained some of her eyesight, there should have been some permanent damage and vision loss in at least her left eye, for that eye had been effected for 2 years. It is expected that there should be at least some optic nerve damage, and that there is simply no medical explanation for a complete restoration of 20/20 vision in both eyes.
"Faith and confession" is what Dafne Gutierrez continues to repeat time and time again when asked about her healing. "I was desperate when I walked into St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church. I felt like God never heard me before, but this time was different, just different."
"For me to be able to see and read the papers [medical reports] that say that I would never be able to see again....It is such a blessing!"
|Medical records relating to Dafne Gutierrez blindness|
Dafne explained that throughout her long illness that she had often gone to various Catholic churches and prayed, though it often seemed to her that God did not hear her prayers, because they seemingly went unanswered. "I don't know how many different Churches I went to, how many times I asked God,..and it seemed like He never heard me. But that day was different..." She said however that she always had faith and hope that God would someday heal her.
Exactly one month later as a gesture of deep thanksgiving and gratefulness to God for her healing, a special Mass and blessing with the Holy oil of St. Sharbel took place at St Joseph Church on February 18, 2016, and was presided by his Excellency Bishop Abdallah Elias Zaidan, Maronite Catholic bishop of Los Angeles, CA. Eparchy.
"All the doctors have said: 'There is no explanation'.....God healed me."
And in an interview on Youtube she says:
"I just want to keep on telling everybody; Don't lose faith. God does exist. Just have faith...[go to] confession. Don't lose hope."
As for a brief biography, Sr Charbel Makhlouf (1828-1898) was a Maronite Catholic monk from Lebanon who died on Christmas Eve at age 73. He spent the last 23 years of his life in a rugged cabin in complete solitude, with poor heat and the bare necessities of life, and was known for his practice of penance and mortifications, eating very little and sleeping on the ground.
Three days after his death he was buried in the monastery cemetery, and for the next forty-five nights his tomb was surrounded by a dazzlingly bright light. As the days passed this phenomenon was witnessed by an increasingly large number of local villagers who informed the religious Maronite monastery, none of whom could provide an explanation. Permission was sought from the ecclesiastical authorities for the monk’s body to be exhumed. Four months after his death permission was obtained, and upon the exhumation he was found to be completely incorrupt, though he had been buried in the ground without a casket. Charbel was given fresh clothing before being placed in a wooden coffin in a corner of the monastery’s private chapel. Soon a strange liquid was found exuding continually from the casket, coming from the pores of his body. Described as a mixture of fluid and blood, it continually flowed from his remains day and night. Soon, a local custom began where pieces of cloth soaked in this fluid were soon being distributed as relics, and were being credited with effecting cures. To this day this custom of "holy oil" touched to the relics of St Charbel used as a blessing is still a very common practice of the faithful, as was used in Dafne's healing.
"He wants me to tell everybody don't lose faith. Go to confession. Never lose hope."
-"She Came And Prayed Asking St. Sharbel To Cure Her" -St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona
-Saint Charbel- The Maronite Monk
-"Dafne Gutierrez Healed through Intercession St. Sharbel in Arizona"
-"St. Sharbel Healing at St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona"
-"St Charbel heals Dafne Gutierrez from blindness in America"
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