St. Juan Diego’s miracle

St. Juan DiegoYesterday’s feast got me thinking about St. Juan Diego, of Our Lady of Guadalupe fame.

Under normal circumstances, for a beatification there must be a miracle which has been rigorously studied and approved by the Congregation for Causes and Saints accepted by the Holy Father.   In the case of Juan Diego, John Paul II decided to beatify him without the approved miracle.  He had been declared Venerable in 1987.

There was a miracle for his canonization, however.  And it is quite a story.

Juan Jose Barragan Silva, of Mexico City, was a drug addict from his adolescence.  He and his mother had been abandoned by his father.

On 3 May 1990 Juan Jose, after getting drunk and high on marijuana with a friend, went home and started to cut himself on the head with a knife.  His mother, Esperanza, tried to get the knife away but failed.  She implored him to stop abusing himself and give up the alcohol and marijuana.    He shouted that he didn’t want to live any more so loudly that the neighbors came to see what was going on, but the door was locked.

Juan Jose threw himself off the balcony of their second floor apartment (in the USA this would be counted as the third floor).

In that moment, Esperanza had a “flash”.  Knowing that Pope John Paul was to be in Mexico for the beatification of Juan Diego, she called on Juan Diego to intercede for her son.

Juan Jose fell about 10 meters and landed close to a friend of his, Jesus Alfredo Velasquez Ramirez, who saw him land on his head on the concrete pavement.  Juan Jose was bleeding copiously from the mouth, nose and ears.  They covered him, thinking he was dead.  He suddenly sat up, rose and went to the stairs leading to his apartment.  On meeting his mother coming down the stairs he asked his mother’s forgiveness.  They embraced and remained that way for another ten minutes or so before the ambulance came.,

During the ambulance ride Juan Jose said he had lost his vision.  He was able to say a Our Father.  He was registered at Sanatorio Durango at 1830.

The medical prognosis was very pessimistic.  The doctor, Juan Homero Hernandez Illescas later explained that it was already incomprehensible that he was still alive.  They did tests immediately and found that he had a fracture of the epistropheus, a large hemotoma in the right temporal-parietal region extending to the lateral part of the neck and lacerations of the muscles about the parapharyngeal space,  fractures from the right orbital to the clivus, intracranial hemorrhages and air in cranial cavity and in the cerebral ventricals.  Fr. Manuel Ponce gave him the last rites under the impression that he would soon be dead.

He continued to live.

The first days he was sedated. On the fifth, doctors found that his pupils were symmetrical and reactive and that he could move his arms and legs.  On the sixth day he was released from the ICU to a regular ward.  On the seventh day his feeding tube was removed.  He was released on the tenth day after the fall.   Subsequent tests by neurologists and other specialists showed a total recovery.  Juan Jose also gave up his drug habit and started school.

It seems that his change of condition came on 6 May at the very time John Paul II was beatifying Juan Diego.

The decree concerning this miracle was promulgated on 20 December 2001.  Holy Father Pope John Paul II canonized St. Juan Diego on 31 July 2002.


If we do not believe in miracles, we do not ask for them. If we do not ask for them, they will not be granted.

We are not alone: the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant are closely knit, interwoven in charity. We on earth must intercede for each other and believe and ask for the intercession of the saints.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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14 Responses to St. Juan Diego’s miracle

  1. mike cliffson says:


  2. There are those who doubt the existence of Juan Diego. Pretty good for a non-existent saint!

  3. nfp4life says:

    There are so many miraculous instances surrounding Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego, and here is just one more! Thanks Fr. Z!
    I can’t understand how the existence of Juan Diego could be doubted; what about the Nican Mopohua?

  4. Bender says:

    If we do not believe in miracles . . .

    Yes, there are miracles happening all the time. I wish though that we (and the sainthood process) would not be so limited in our thinking. There are all sorts of miracles out there — medical miracles comprise only a part of God’s providence and interaction with His creation.

  5. MarkJ says:

    Such an inspiring and uplifting story! Thank you, Father Z, for sharing it with us. I was just relating the story of San Juan Diego with my daughter last night – I’ll be sharing this account with my whole family this weekend!

  6. brassplayer says:

    If we do not believe in miracles, we do not ask for them. If we do not ask for them, they will not be granted.

    Amen, Father!

    When my wife was in labor with my son, she was pushing for three hours when the baby’s heartrate started to plummet. Alarms sounded and medical staff ran into the room. The lead Doctor immediately called for an Emergency C-Section and wheeled my wife into Emergency Surgery (where I was not allowed). I was put into an adjacent Recovery Room and left alone. Those ten minutes were the longest of my life, fearing that I could lose both my wife and unborn baby. I got on my knees and prayed to Our Lord to not take them away from me. I also have a special affinity for The Archangel St. Gabriel, and I asked him if he would intercede on their behalf.

    A few minutes later, one of the Nurses came in and said both mom and child were both going to be fine. I couldn’t stop crying as they got me into scrubs and brought me into the Surgery Room. I spent the next few minutes comforting my wife, and then heard my son being born.

    My wife and I had already agreed that she would be choose our son’s first name and I would choose the second. I already had something picked out, but the circumstances of my birth changed my mind. As my way of thanking the Archangel, my son carries Gabriel as his middle name.

    Emergency C-Sections happen everyday. However, having my wife and child come through that night was definitely a miracle to me.

  7. benedetta says:

    Like MarkJ we also had a discussion about Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Juan Diego and the tilma in our household yesterday. My son had known about it but had some good questions. I will also share this with him. He watched an EWTN program about the feast in Mexico and noticed the people on their knees. He also was fascinated with the details about the tilma itself. It led to a general discussion about Marian apparitions, we discussed Fatima and LaSalette as well. I had never known this story about the miracle that happened during the canonization.

  8. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    I’m a couple of days early, but Sunday,the Feast of Our Lady of Guadeloupe, is the 17th Baptismal Birthday of our youngest daughter. She was born on 11/12, baptized on 12/12.We hadn’t at the time connected the 12th with Our Lady (don’t know how we missed it, but we did) , but it is particularly apt, seeing as our daughter is half Mexican.

  9. Miriam says:

    Great story Father Z.

    Just one teensy little thing:

    Juan Jose through himself off the balcony of their second floor apartment

    I think you meant through=threw.

    It’s all that Latin you do. LOL

  10. ContraMundum says:

    “If we do not believe in miracles, we do not ask for them. If we do not ask for them, they will not be granted.”

    I can think of at least one prominent counterexample: the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. There, the miracle was granted, not because the newlyweds or their families requested it, but because the Mother of God, on her own initiative, prayed for them. And you know very well that she’s still praying for people who have not a clue!

  11. ContraMundum: You seem to be laboring under the false impression that that was a “counterexample”.

  12. ContraMundum says:

    “If we do not believe in miracles, we do not ask for them. If *WE* do not ask for them, they will not be granted.”

    Yes, it is a counterexample, unless “we” is broad enough to include the Blessed Virgin. If you mean it to include Her, then your statement is a waste of time, because it will not be possible that “we do not believe in miracles” or that “we do not ask for them”. [You are just being argumentative.]

  13. Tony Layne says:

    @ nfpforlife: “I can’t understand how the existence of Juan Diego could be doubted ….”

    I can. Emile Zola continued to proclaim that he disbelieved in miracles even after witnessing one first-hand. C. S. Lewis, in the opening paragraph of his book Miracles, states that the only person he knew who claimed to have seen a ghost didn’t believe in them either before or after the event. There are those who doubt Jesus existed even as a mere mortal despite attestation from contemporary Jewish sources. Just think of the Holocaust deniers! If seeing is not believing, then how can they who have not seen believe?

  14. Dr. Eric says:

    This one made my eyes a little misty.