John Paul, Pray For Us

On Monday, January 14, 2013, I prayed for my newborn granddaughter in the chapel at Cardinal Glennon Hospital. I paused at the door to sign the guest register and write the name Eliana Noel in the prayer request space next to my name.

A couple of days earlier, my son called to tell me that their baby had been born. The call was not the call I expected.“Mom,” he said, “we have a baby girl, but it has been a terrible night. She’s 9 pounds, 9 ounces.” I gasped. My daughter-in-law is extremely petite, with a pre-pregnancy weight of about 110 pounds. Candice had just delivered a baby that was about 1/12 of her pre-pregnancy weight.

“The baby was stuck in the birth canal for a very long time. The umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice. The doctors finally just pulled her out by her arm. She didn’t have a heartbeat, Mom.” Tears streamed down my face as I listened to my son describe the birth of his first child. “She wasn’t breathing. They worked on her for about 12 minutes, and she didn’t breathe on her own until 13 minutes after delivery. She’s being transferred to Cardinal Glennon Hospital, and they aren’t sure if she’s going to make it.”

He listed the possible scenarios. Paralysis. Cerebral Palsy. Brain damage.

The next day, Eliana had two seizures. For three days, the neurological team said the MRI would show some brain damage.

And that is why, on Monday, January 14, I prayed in the chapel. And I specifically asked for the intercession of Blessed John Paul II. In fact, I had asked everyone I met to pray. Forget pride. I had become a beggar for prayers. I wrote Archbishop Carlson and asked for his prayers. The curia, the seminarians, countless orders of men and women religious, faithful Catholics, priests, and perfect strangers agreed to pray for Eliana. I wrote to Facebook friends and everyone on my LinkedIn list. I asked many of them to lay this petition before Blessed John Paul II.

12 Nov 1979, Rome, Italy --- Pope John Paul II --- Image by © Gianni Giansanti/Sygma/Corbis

12 Nov 1979, Rome, Italy — Pope John Paul II — Image by © Gianni Giansanti/Sygma/Corbis

The rest of my family is Protestant. They, in turn, begged their faith communities to pray. Thousands were storming the heavens.

Eliana means “God answers prayer.” Her parents picked out her name last summer. They prayed throughout the pregnancy that their little girl would give glory to God.

I wrote the name in the guest book that day and turned to leave the chapel. On the wall outside of the chapel, there is a sketch of John Paul II. I paused to study the picture and framed letter hanging beneath it, in which he proclaims, “I want the young boys and girls being taken care of at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital and all sick children everywhere to know that the Pope prays for each one of you.”

My eyes went to the signature at the end of his 1999 letter. I am too new to the Catholic faith to know if signatures are first-class relics, but I didn’t ponder that question for long. I took that letter as a sign that this holy man was praying for my granddaughter.

That was January 14th.

Eliana after the MRI results

Eliana after the MRI results

In the evening of January 15, my son called with the results of the MRI. “No brain damage, Mom. The neurologist says there is no sign that her birth caused any loss of brain function. At all. None. Her mind is perfect, and the doctor says that her brain function now depends solely on the DNA she received from us.” And then he laughed while I cried tears of joy.

I had watched these new parents for days. I had seen them pray and watch helplessly at their daughter’s crib. I had seen them cry and cling to each other. At times, the trauma left them almost catatonic.

And now, they knew that God had not only saved their little girl, He had protected her throughout the birth. We have spent the last few days talking to NICU nurses and hearing them read the account of Eliana’s birth which is captured in the pages of her medical records. Veteran nurses have said, “Ask a NICU nurse who has been here 20 years, and she will tell you the same thing. This child is miraculous. We have never seen this happen. Babies just don’t go through what she went through without suffering some brain damage.”

There are still many more hurdles to overcome. There is no presumption on our part that God will heal everything that remains broken, but there is a confidence that He can do it – if He wills it.

I have seen the power of intercessory prayer. I don’t know that this will be a Church-approved miracle that leads to the canonization of Blessed John Paul II, but I do know this: he prayed for Eliana at the Throne in Heaven, and God heard his prayer.

Denise Bossert


Denise Bossert is a convert and a syndicated columnist. Her column has been published in 60 diocesan newspapers. She attends Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri.

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  • Glory to be God and to his Servant, John Paul!

  • Charlie500

    PRAISE GOD! What a beautiful story! Let’s not forget we now have a powerful Saint in heaven at our service…our beloved JPII. Blessed John Paul II, pray for the children!

  • Mommyof3

    Thank you Lord for a healthy baby for this family!

  • Ruth

    Beautiful ! The power of pray is awesome !!!!

  • Ed

    Hallelujah! 3 and a half years ago I found out that I had terminal prostate cancer. I prayed and told Pope John Paul II that if he needed to use me as a miracle witness so he could meet the qualifications for becoming a Saint that I would be willing to testify for him if he healed me. I found out later that because I was not a Catholic that I did not qualify to officially testify. I had a miracle and my cancer has vanished. This is all medically documented. Others were praying for me so it is difficult to know who to thank. Ultimately it was Jesus that healed me. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Pope John Paul. If anyone has an interest in documenting this case as supporting evidence for his sainthood I am willing to testify.

  • Michael

    Praise be Jesus and Mary: John Paul II I love you.

  • Theresa

    I just want to thank God on behalf of this family for this wonderful miracle. I also thank him for our brother Blessed John Paul II who stood in gap for this family and asked God for healing. Thank God for the Communion of Saints.

  • Deacon Tom Fox

    There are words to a song that come to mind: “Jesus loves the little children…” Perhaps sometimes so much that He brings them directly or soon to His throne. But for now, we give thanks that God has given each of us an example of the power of uniting in prayer. Blessings Eliana, mom, dad and all family members.

  • Markfive.36

    Thank you for sharing this story and Praise God for His wonderful glory in healing Eliana. I have prayed many Novenas for the intercession of John Paul the Great in healing my son from his autism. The results may not seem as dramatic (since his struggles with language etc… continue), but there has been great progress.

    Your story helps encourage me to not give up. I find it easy to accept that God CAN heal, when He wills it, but more difficult to accept that He WANTS to, and indeed Will heal us.
    My gratitude to you (and God)

  • Tom

    We are so excited for his canonization! Praise God for this beautiful miracle! The whole Philippines love Pope John Paul II!

  • Tom

    Share your story to Michael Brown of Spiritdaily or the nearest Cardinal in your state.

  • Rosemary

    Blessings to you and especially your family and beautiful Eliana. This story so moved me and inside I feel sure, too, that it is Blessed John Paul ll’s intercession.

  • Joannie

    I will probably be the lone wolf here but as far as the late “Great” Blessed John Paul II is concerned even if he did work a miracle in different cases like yours I seriously do not think he should be canonized now because of all the abuse scandals of which Bill Donahue of the Catholic League himself admitted that JPII did not do enough to correct this deplorable situation. The Legion of Christ the Scandal in Austria and now in LA with Roger Mahonny who was put in charge by the “Great” Blessed one. Please think more objectively and not so emotional subjectively. John Paul II was Good but not GREAT.

  • Jesus had 12 apostles. One of them betrayed Him. That did not diminish Our Lord’s holiness (or divinity). The Church has declared John Paul II blessed. We must be quick to do the same.
    Regarding Eliana’s story: I asked everyone I met to pray for her, and I have tried to thank as many as I can. I know God answers prayers – directed to God the Father, through the Son, by the Power of the Holy Spirit. Even so, it is right to thank those who pray for and with us. In a very specific and unique way, I asked Blessed John Paul II to pray for Eliana at the Throne of Heaven, and I believe he heard my plea and prayed. It is right to turn now and thank him, to share my gratitude publicly. And so, I have and will continue to do so.
    On a final note, Eliana went home from the hospital three days ago – weeks earlier than anyone expected. Her physical therapist did a home visit yesterday and said that it appears the Erb’s Palsy in her left arm will heal completely – in time. God continues to work miracles in this little girl. The Erb’s Palsy is the last big hurdle. John Paul II, pray for us.

  • Rev Charles

    Remember the koc prayed at my request.pgk Charles,ps I felt JohnPaul near precious Noel…Vivit Jesus

  • Texas Ranger

    Who even knows if this pope is even destined for heaven. All of the evil practices that entered the Vatican and the Catholic Church during his reign is horrendous.

  • Sandi Bernard

    2 1/2 years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer. I have 2 friends who are nuns in seperate monasteries, one in NY and one in Iowa. All the nuns in these 2 monasteries prayed thru the intercession of John Paul II that I would be cured. I had about a 50/50 chance. I am considered cured now which is a miracle. Thank you JP2, we love you!!

  • Hanging by a thread

    In 1999 children were having their innocence stolen away at the hands of pedophile clergy, and the pontiff looked the other way. His letter is insulting. All of us have our skeletons, but to say that a man who did NOTHING to protect children who actually made it out of the womb only to be exposed to unthinkable sexual assault should be made a saint, is absolutely ludicrous! I’m overjoyed that little Eliana is doing so well, but it does not mean that John Paul ll is responsible for that miracle.

  • Aunt Julie

    Please pray for Pope John Paul II intercession in praying for the healing of my 10 month old grand niece, Savannah Grace. She has spinal muscular atrophy, a fatal disease. We are praying God will heal her and spare her life. Please pray with us for a miracle healing. Thank uou, Amen

  • Michelle Marie Allen

    Your grand niece is in my prayers ! I too have a Savannah Grace, my lovely 8 year old granddaughter. Blessed JP II, please intervene and pray for little Savannah Grace and her loving family to our most Merciful Lord Jesus Christ. May God grant them solace and comfort in their time of anxiety, hope and fear. Amen

  • DS

    I also would like to share a miracle. Mine is not as profound as some that I have read but very personal. My wife of 30 years and I have grown apart now that our children have grown. We were on a sure path to separation and divorce. She was also drinking heavily and clearly summary my life was a mess. I said a prayer to pope John Paul. And everything changed.

    Something in me woke up and I reached out to my wife like I never had. She in response did the same. She entered rehab, and we are like two newly married lovesick teenagers. It was that fast and that profound. I would not believe this if it did not happen to me. Thank you John Paul , I will always try to live the life you showed me.