Blessed Zelie Martin's miracle namesake, by Maria Celia Frias for the Shrine at Alencon

little maria celia frias, now aged five and a half years

In honor of the feast of Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin on July 12, 2015, and thanks to the Shrine at Alencon, we have the joy of publishing in English the story of little Maria Celia Frias.  We thank Juan Marrero for the translation of this happy story.

On July 10, 2009, I was 16 weeks pregnant.  I went to have an echogram done, and my unborn child was diagnosed with a fetal congenital malformation of the abdominal wall (a condition called “gastrochisis”).  It’s worth mentioning that, in 2003, I had had my first daughter Maria Joaquina, who suffered from the same malformation, but she died after two surgeries; she was only 14 days old.  Given all that had happened, my anguish at that moment was indescribable.  When my aunt, who lives in Toulouise, in France, found out what had occurred , she suggested that I begin a novena to the parents of St. Therese, Louis and Zelie Martin, because they had already cured an Italian baby.  I began the novena on July 13, 2009, and, from that time on, prayed to them and to the Blessed Virgin Mary with much faith.

I continued having echograms performed at a hospital with sophisticated technological resources.  I went there regularly to determine the appropriate moment for a delivery by Caesarean section, to be followed by urgent surgery on the baby in order to save her.  Everything went so well that the the radiologist was able to give us a range of dates for the Cesarean: from October 1 (the feast of St. Therese) until October 19 (the anniversary of the beatification of Louis and Zelie).  This range gave me a sense of the sense of the presence of the Saints and the Virgin accompanying me, so that I could withstand the great sorrow and uncertainty and continue a normal life with my family and my other daughter, Maria Dolores, who was then 4 years old.

My daughter, Maria Celia (named after Marie Zelie Guerin), was born on November 16, 2009 at 34 weeks of gestation.  She weighed 2.220 kg.  She was operated on immediately.  At first, all seemed to go well, and the baby improved daily.  The doctors agreed that, instead of continuing the tube feeding, I could start to breasfeed Maria Celia.  But one day, to give her more nourishment, the doctors put a catheter throug her neck vein.  Then everything started to go wrong.  It began with a grave infection, and then a dangerous clot that did great harm to her little organism, so premature and defenseless.  The baby was again taken to intensive care.  She began to swell up and to turn blue.  She was growing worse by the day, worse even than when she was born.  This was very sad for the family.  I was desperate, and I couldn’t understand what was happening.

But the last thing I would lose was faith in the Blesseds and in Our Holy Virgin Mary of Lourdes.  I began the novena to the little Virgin, and another mother who was in the neonatal area gave me a bottle of holy water from the grotto of Lourdes in France.  While I made the sign of the cross on the baby’s forehead with the Lourdes water, I prayed fervently.  I also made my “claim” to the Blesseds feeling in a way that they had forsaken me.  Why had things turned seemingly for the worse when all was beginning to improve?  Why would I be losing a daughter again?  I should note that the doctors, once so optimistic, were very worried now for my daughter, who grew worse by the day.  Until, miraculously (and to the surprise of all, including the doctors), the baby began to improve, the infection was controlled, and the clot dissolved without residuals.

On December 8, 2009 (the day of the Immaculate Conception, a great sign for me at that moment), I was able to lift and carry my daughter Maria Celia, who was still very weak, and feed her.  This was the second miracle.  Each day she improved more and more.  On the tenth day, now weighing 2 kg., she was discharged from the hospital.  I brought her home, where her grandmothers and sister waited for her.  My daughter has had no more problems.  Her father, who is a surgeon, examines her umbilicus for a hernia, and even that has not appeared.  Thank you, Louis and Zelie and Virgin of Lourdes!!!!

by MARIA CELIA FRIAS (it’s worth mentioning “casually” that I have the same name as Blessed Zelie, but my mother chose this name in 1975 when I was born).

Editor's’ note:  Note that this child’s diagnosis took place near the first feast of Louis and Zelie.  They were married at midnight during the night between July 12 and July 13; their feast is celebrated on July 12, but the Catholic marriage ceremony must actually have taken place on July 13, the date on which Maria Celia began her novena.  Louis and Zelie both made pilgrimages (separately) to Lourdes, and Therese herself used Lourdes water in her last illness.  Finally, December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, was a day on which Zelie several times received important graces.