A Witness of Gratitude to Blessed Azélie Martin

Blessed Azélie Martin Witness

Dear Reader,

We are writing because we would like to give witness of our gratitude to Blessed Azélie Martin.

The Expectation and Temptation

In the spring of 2012 we were delighted to learn that we were pregnant with our fourth child.  Our three previous are happy and healthy children. 

The family of Randall and Piper Kotwica of Pittsburgh as they awaited their new baby

We were anxiously anticipating the ultrasound to find out if we were having a boy or a girl.  We had decided that we would honor Saint Joseph and name the child either Joseph or Josephine.  This was going to be an especially exciting day because the ultrasound was scheduled for July 19th, my wife’s birthday.

On July 19th we took all our children to the ultrasound so they could see the baby moving in mama’s belly.  At the beginning, the technician appeared concerned, and, as our son asked “Mama, is that the baby?” the technician somberly stated, “I cannot find a heartbeat.”  Immediately the pain, anger, and confusion began.  We were directed to go to the hospital as soon as possible.  Before we left, we were told that we had a son and that my wife was about 17 weeks pregnant.

Making the painful drive to the hospital, nothing else in the world seemed to matter.  We maintained a glimmer of hope that maybe the technician at the ultrasound was wrong or God was going to bestow upon us a wonderful miracle.  At the hospital, procedures were arranged for my wife to deliver our unborn son, Joseph Marie.  Before this happened, however, we asked for another ultrasound to make sure Joseph Marie was not alive.  The doctor confirmed what the technician had said at the first ultrasound, and my wife delivered our dead son, Joseph Marie.

We were permitted to hold Joseph Marie.  His body was tiny and cold.  When our lips kissed his head, it was starkly different from kissing a newborn full of life and warmth.  Drowning in tears, we performed a conditional baptism.  While we are holding Joseph Marie, we know this will be the last time we see our son on earth again, and my wife and I are flooded with anger and sadness and tempted with despair.  We did not know where to direct our anger; we were crushed with an unbearable heartache; and we were tempted toward despair by questioning the goodness of God.

Blessed Azélie Martin (The Anchor)

 The obvious consolation we sought was through Our Lord’s Passion and the sufferings of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  However, when seeking consolation through Our Lord Jesus Christ or the Blessed Virgin Mary, sometimes it is hard to identify with them simply because of their stature.  Sensibly, the Church has given us the Saints to help us on our pilgrimage home whom can act as an anchor to ground us when we are stuck between despair and faith.  It is Blessed Azélie Martin who was our anchor in our time of need.  In our grief we knew there had to be a saint (or blessed in this case) who had gone through the loss of a child.  Turning to St. Thérèse of Lisieux we were aware that she came from a family that had lost some children.  After quickly obtaining and reading The Mother of the Little Flower: Zelie Martin, we had found our anchor.  Bl. Azélie Martin was a very humble woman filled with faith and courage despite tremendous hardships and tragedies.  Bl. Azélie lost four of her nine children.  What grounded us in our desperation was Bl. Azélie’s tremendous courage in accepting God’s will, despite the suffering each additional loss brought her.  She refused to allow herself to fall into self-pity or despair and kept her eyes focused on the reality that earthly life brings with it the cross of Christ and only when our pilgrimage ends can we expect rest from trial and suffering.

Azélie Marie Kotwica

In October 2013 we were overjoyed to give birth to a healthy baby girl.  We decided to properly honor Bl. Azélie Martin by naming our new daughter Azélie Marie Kotwica. 

Blessed be God.

In the love of Christ,

Mr. Randal and Piper Kotwica