Melissa Villalobos first heard of Blessed John Henry Newman from an EWTN show, but her relationship with him began more than a decade afterwards, when her husband brought home two holy cards with his image. “I put them up in our house—in our family room and in our bedroom—and I would pass by his image and just talk to him … and he seemed either happy when I expressed joy or like he was sharing in my sorrow when I was sorrowful and I just felt like we grew really close,” said Villalobos.
Because she had grown in such devotion to Cardinal Newman, Melissa called upon his intercession in a terrifying, desperate moment.
“I was pregnant and I was in my first trimester and I was losing blood. What had happened was, for some reason and we still don’t know why, but my placenta had become partially detached from the uterine wall. So blood was escaping from that hole which was essentially an open wound. And I also developed a subchorionic hematoma, which was a blood clot in there and it was two and a half times the size of my baby, Gemma. And I was ordered to strict bed rest because the hole could get even worse and I could bleed to death; also I could lose my unborn baby,” explained Villalobos.
She tried to maintain as limited movement as possible, but it was extremely difficult as the mother of four young children and no one to help when her husband was at work. Just days later, she lost so much blood that she had to go to the ER. Soon after, her husband left early in the morning for a mandatory business trip. “I was asleep when he left, so when I woke up that morning I was in a pool of blood, already starting that way,” Villalobos recalled.
She got the kids downstairs to eat breakfast, and asked them to stay where they were. “They sat in their seats and I said, please stay in your seats no matter what. I wanted to go upstairs and I wanted to try to manage the situation and I didn’t want them to see the trauma. … I closed the bathroom door and then I collapsed on the floor because I had now started bleeding even more than when I was in the emergency room the previous Friday. As I was lying on the floor I thought, I definitely need to call 9-1-1 now, I don’t want to die here in the bathroom. But I didn’t have my cell phone.”
“I had no way to call for help and I thought, I need to scream; I need the phone now. But I couldn’t exert the abdominal force necessary to scream through two closed doors without causing maybe the last scream of my life. The placenta was very delicate … even an exhale of air would cause a gush of blood during those weeks so I was in no position to scream,” explained Melissa.
“It was a very desperate situation and all of a sudden I said, while laying on the floor, ‘Please Cardinal Newman, make the bleeding stop.’ And just then, the blood stopped immediately. It was flowing rapidly and it came to a sudden, hard stop. And I said, ‘Thank you, Cardinal Newman. Did you just make the bleeding stop?’ I mean, I knew he did, but that’s what I said. And just then, this burst of roses filled the air in the bathroom and it was amazing. And I inhaled it and it was stronger than any rose I’ve ever smelled on the earth.”
Baby Gemma was born on December 27, 2013, a healthy, full-term baby. “If she had survived the pregnancy, I was told she would be very small and she would have medical problems. But she has no medical problems at all. In fact, right now at five, she’s reading, telling time, she rides her bicycle, so she’s very healthy and thanks be to God for that, and of course to Cardinal Newman.”
This miracle healing was investigated and accepted by the Vatican as the final miracle needed for Blessed John Henry Newman’s canonization. He will be canonized on October 13, 2019.
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