St. Juan Diego’s miracle

St. Juan Diego

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 did this in accord with the present legislation on the processes of canonization for historical cases which fell in a certain time frame.  Juan Diego 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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14 Responses to St. Juan Diego’s miracle

  1. MyBrokenFiat says:

    How beautiful, Father! I was unaware of that. Thank you… my heart is so full of love and gratitude… our brothers and sisters in Heaven fight on for us still.

    How good is our Lord! :)

  2. inara says:

    go, Diego, go!! :o)

  3. Choirmaster says:

    Amen, Father! I’ve been granted WAY too many miracles through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe for it just to be a coincidence. If I ask for a miracle, I get it. It’s gotten to the point where I have to be very ginger with my petitions so as not to fall into the sin of presumption.

    The Rosary is, indeed, a very powerful tool and weapon. I have no doubt that the Rosary crusades launched by the SSPX are the only reason the doctrinal talks have progressed so far. If they [the Rosary crusades] continue, I’m sure they will be the only reason visible unity with the Roman church will be restored.

    In the case of Juan Diego, it was only a matter of time, considering his close ties with Our Lady, that a miracle would be recognized due to his intercession.

    Next time you want (or need) a miracle, pray for it. Use the Rosary, frame your petition properly (don’t forget the critical “thy will be done”), and expect it in good faith. Tip: start giving thanks for the miracle right away, even if you’re not aware of it having yet been granted.

    Be mindful of the fact, also, that, with a properly framed petition and a righteous intention, your request will not go unfulfilled, so know what you asked for, what you’re looking for, and when and where you should expect it to manifest. Esperanza could not have obtained this miracle if her son had not fallen into tragedy; it’s not always sunshine and lollipops and hugs. She probably prayed for his conversion for a very long time so his miraculous survival is only the tip of the ice berg, so to speak.

  4. rodin says:

    It seems that the Almighty occasionally resorts to a good bump on the head to bring some people around. Most notably St. Paul responded very well, indeed, to that stimulus. Without wishing evil on anyone might we pray for some bumps for Nancy Pelosi, Katherine Sebelius, John Kerry etc.?

  5. Centristian says:

    It’s flooring how generous and merciful God is (especially when we are in extreme distress) if only we turn to him with trust in all sincerity imploring His help. The prayers of a devout Mother, of course, are particularly powerful, especially when she teams up with the Mother of God.

    “Fr. Manuel Ponce gave him the last rites under the impression that he would soon be dead…He continued to live…He was released on the tenth day after the fall. Subsequent tests by neurologists and other specialists showed a total recovery.”

    I can attest, myself, to the power of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick in turning a predicted fatality into a quick and unexpected recovery.

    What a blessed Marian window of time this turns out to be, especially for those of us living in (the) America(s): the feast of the Immaculate Conception followed by the feast of Juan Diego followed by a Saturday (BVM) followed by Gaudete Sunday followed by the feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe. I cannot imagine that any Christian taking sincere and devout advantage of these days to give thanks and praise to the Lord through His Mother could fail to profit tremendously.

    I began this series of Marian days by joining my own mother for Mass at the chapel of the local Carmelite Monastery on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. I was floored to discover that Mass is celebrated in their beautiful chapel without any trace at all of the liturgical deformation. All the propers were chanted, for one thing, in Latin. The acolytes were male, vested in surplice and cassock; they held patens under the chins of communicants, all of which received Holy Communion on the tongue, kneeling! Number of extraordinary minsters: zero. Number of hand-holders/hand-raisers at the Lord’s Prayer: zero. Father Z would have enthusiastically approved of this Mass. Add to it all beautiful and traditional vestments and altar appointments. And bells! Almost forgot the bells. Following Mass one of the offices (unsure which) was chanted in Latin by the nuns (who are invisible to the congregation except for a couple of extern sisters).

    To discover this gem was a miracle in itself as far as I’m concerned, and it certainly filled me with encouragement and consolation. Now at last I have discovered, in this diocese, just where to go for the authentic experience of Catholic Worship (apart from Tridentine Mass venues and Eastern Rite churches). I knew there had to be someplace in this area where it could be found.

    And I owe this remarkable local discovery to joining my mother to give praise to the Mother of God on one of her great feasts. Ave gratia plena!

  6. SimpleCatholic says:

    Can anyone provide independent sources or citations for this miracle? Have any investigations been conducted by medical professionals? Fr. Z usually posts references for news like this, but there aren’t any citations for this story. I’ve got some very skeptical doctor-friends, and I’d like to provide them with information about this case that they would find credible.

    [My source was, initially, the courses I took from the Congregation for Causes of Saints in Rome. I don't know whether anything has been written about this in an English publication. There is an Italian book that has some of these amazing miracle stories, however. It includes illustrations of x-rays and medical reports, etc. Italian probably isn't much use to you.]

  7. Banjo pickin girl says:

    The doctor mentioned is the same one who has done a lot of the research on the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. There is a lot about him on the web from various sources.

  8. Paul M says:

    Thanks for posting this Fr. Z; what a story and what a miracle.

    And speaking of Our Lady of Guadalupe, please pray for the parishioners of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Santa Ana, CA. The church has been gutted by fire:
    There is a slideshow that not only shows the fire, but some beautiful items that were saved as well as some historical photos.

  9. Ellen says:

    I can attest to the power of the rosary. I made a novena just before the feast of the Immaculate Conception and the day after, my prayer was answered. I have promised a novena of thanksgiving for the favor.

    Truly, the Blessed Virgin is a powerful intercessor.

  10. Supertradmum says:

    If any of these great commentators need a cause, please join me in prayer for a miracle of grace for someone who has been in disobedience to the Church and in need of great psychological healing. St. Juan Diego, I pray and ask for this miracle, fully believing in your intercession. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us. Putting our money where our mouth is, as we say in Iowa….

  11. Supertradmum says:

    sorry, putting our money where our mouths are…it has been a short night and a busy morning.

  12. JoannesD says:


    You admit this great miraacle but dismiss Medjugorje, I was surorised to see in an earlier post of yours. Why? You seem so sure it is not real. What if it is? Have you been there? I have not.


    [The one thing has nothing to do with the other. I have no plans ever to visit Medugorje. This rabbit hole is now closed.]

  13. Tammy says:

    I have 2 adult sons who used to be faithful young men who have become atheists and now have significant mental health issues. (I dont know which came first, the atheism or the depression – perhaps they rejected the Light and the darkness entered). I ask Our Lady, Juan Diego and all the Saints to intercede to the Lord for the souls of my sons – I ask for a miracle, please. I would give my life for it should the Lord ask it of me.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    Tammy, prayers coming your way…