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WITNESS: Maria do Carmo de Souza Figueiredo Mariano

On October 29, 1961, Humberto Luiz was born, my 4th child. The pregnancy was uneventful until the 6th month. Thereafter, there was a risk of losing liquid and my doctor, despite my concerns and explanations, gave no importance to the fact.

Due to the liquid I lost, as the doctors later told me, I gave birth to a premature baby.

He was born wrapped in the umbilical cord, lacked oxygen at the time of birth, which led to complete brain atrophy; total cerebral palsy.

The doctor, who accompanied me throughout pregnancy and childbirth, gave us no explanation to his difficulties. The next day, I was discharged from hospital and went home without any guidance. At home, I began to realize the seriousness of the situation. He could not suck and had no movement in his legs. Facing so many difficulties, my husband and I called a paediatrician, who confirmed all deficiencies and lack of reflexes to raise it, we would need to be skilful; total cerebral palsy.

The problems were very serious. He never had tears. By his face expression, I could perceive he was crying. It was a hoarse and muffled cry. During 2 months, he cried day and night. I nursed him nonstop. I used to feed with an eyedropper. Paediatricians and neurologists, tests almost every day, severe convulsions. I had no control over the temperature – it used to rise over 40 º C, then it froze down.

Those days were very sombre. Only the protection of God was able to guide me and give me strength to carry on. He was dead several times. At 3 years, not moving, not steadying his head, having liquid and creamy food. He was allergic to all types of milk, including that of soybeans. Finally, was fed with goat milk. The problems got worse. The doctors told me: “Take care of your other children, it’s useless to worry about this baby, he will not even learn habits. Admit him somewhere”.

At that time, I got to know Sister Benigna who came into my life for good. With her prayers, advice, words, spiritual care, everything began to get better.

Every day Humberto showed some progress. Convulsions were rarer and were eventually gone. The body was steady and he began to walk, smiling. He began to figure out the world around him, participating and playing with siblings and friends. His understanding of life was growing. The battle was not easy, but with the prayers, with the notable presence of Sister Benigna, he could then realize the world and, protected by her and his brothers, he was improving day by day. Sister Benigna taught him everything he needed, especially the presence of God and Our Lady, and told me: "He will give you great joy." Thus his intelligence blossomed. He began to attend school; participating in seresta (Brazilian typical singing groups) with Sister Benigna, along with his brother and nephews, playing tambourine. Doctors and medicines were no longer necessary. She prepared his 1st communion. Each day there was a new response, giving us enthusiasm and certainty of his recovery. A great friendship was born between us, based on faith, prayer and words. I began to accompany her whenever necessary, visiting government offices to get funding for Augusto Silva Nursing Home.

We went to houses where prayers were needed: diseases, the most diverse problems. I accompanied her to medical appointments with Dr. Múcio to control her 16 diseases. I was always by her side in hospitals, surgery, ICU, and she always by my side at all times. I witnessed many facts of her life. We walked together. She told me that I was her mother and I even said it. I witnessed beautiful moments of her life, stating her humility and the strength of her prayers. Extraordinary miracles happen. She welcomed everyone with affection, relieving many hearts. It was an edifying life. Always present in Humberto’s life, participating in his restoration. He is still a disabled person; he does not speak, but created and creates gestures to communicate. His gifts are very strong, a wonderful faith, a love for Jesus, Mary and Sister Benigna.

Humberto's life through the intercession of Sister Benigna is an enormous miracle. Those who knew him before and know him now are surprised.

We pray for her presence and help for so many needy in altars scattered over the face of the earth.

Maria do Carmo de S. Figueiredo Mariano

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