|Father Luca Bernardo Giustarini|
April 4, 2013, LIVORNO and LUCCA, ITALY
As of today, 3 1/2 year old Giulio is completely normal, but in January of this year (2013) he was very sick with a cancerous brain tumor. Giulio's father Marco relates what transpired: "My son came home from kindergarten on January 7, 2013 saying that he had a severe headache . We took him to the hospital in Pontedera where we were reassured that it was nothing serious. But the pain did not go away and became worse. And so we decided to take him to the childrens hospital Meyer di Firenze . On January 11, the doctors told us that my son had a tumor in the cerebellum and they needed to operate immediately, otherwise there was no hope. That evening, January 11, I was desperate. I left from Meyer di Firenze (Hospital) and I came to Montenero [Our Lady of Montenero Sanctuary] to see Father Luca who had baptized Giulio, and we prayed together and made a vow."
Concerning Marco's evening visit to Our Lady of Montenero Sanctuary on the night before Giulio's operation Father Luca Giustarini, the pastor of the sanctuary states: "I advised Marco to pray to St. Gemma Galgani, and to bring him [Giulio] here to Montenero. We prayed to the Saint so that the child may be cured. The day after the family returned to Meyer, and the tumor was removed."
And so it was that the next day, January 12, 2013, the surgeons at Meyer di Firenze childrens hospital removed a tumor in the cerebellum that had put little Giulio in grave danger. But afterwards it was the fast and complete recovery that impressed the physicians and the parents the most.
|The grateful parents before the niche in honor of St Gemma at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montenero in Livorno, Italy|
On April 3, 2013 Marco and his wife Jessica returned to the Sanctuary of Montenero. He and Jessica met again with Father Luca Giustarini "because together with him we must live up to the vow (promise) that we made the night of January 11, on the eve of the terrible operation. With Father Luca we will walk to Lucca to pray in the church of Santa Gemma and thank her because she has graced my baby. We will depart from here and will walk to Lucca."
And remarkably this is not the first time that Father Luca will be making the walk of thanksgiving in honor of the Virgin Mary and St Gemma- in fact, it is the third walk to the monastery of St Gemma for Father Luca. Concerning this Father Luca explains: "From here [Partiremo] to Lucca is 34 km. The first time I went to Santa Gemma in Lucca on foot was in 2008 when I became pastor of Montenero. This second time it happened because a child of one of our parishioners was healed [through the intercession of S. Gemma] of the same cancer that Giulio also had. So now this is the third time that I walk to Lucca, this time with Marco."
The Bishop of Livorno devotes part of his Easter Homily to relating Giulio's remarkable recovery
The bishop of Livorno, His Excellency Simone Giusti, chose to devote part of his Easter homily "by telling the story in which prayers and scalpels are intertwined."
For now, the bishop and the pastor of Montenero will not call it a miracle, preferring to call it a "grace" obtained through the "overnight prayers" at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Montenero, the patron saint of Tuscany. The bishop recalled the prayers and the vow to S. Gemma Galgani, and then the surgery and the remarkable recovery afterwards.
Giulio's father Marco continues: "Subsequent investigations have confirmed that Giulio did not need to do any chemotherapy. Thank God he is completely fine. He's back in kindergarten and plays without realizing that something extraordinary has happened; we will tell him when he grows up. My life and that of my family have changed. At night I feel the need to pray to Our Lady of Montenero for all the children admitted to Meyer [hospital] in thanksgiving for everything. I am the happiest man in the world. Indeed, we are the happiest family in the world!"
|The Madonna of Montenero with the Child Jesus|