PIETRO THE MIRACLE CHILD AND THE INTERCESSIONS OF BLESSED LOUIS AND ZELIE MARTIN, PARENTS OF ST THÉRÈSE.
Interview with the child’s parents.
“I was born ill, and when I was ill, the Martins asked Jesus to cure me and He did.” That is how the six-year-old Pietro Chilirò explained how he was miraculously cured as a newborn baby.
Valter and Adele, the boy’s parents, entrusted Pietro to the intercessions of the Martins, Marie Zélie Guérin (1831-1977) and Louis Martin (1823-1894), the parents of St Thérèse of the Child Jesus. The miracle resulted in the beatification of the Martins on 19 October 2008 in the Basilica of Lisieux in France, preceded by the opening mass for the beatification at the Basilica of Notre-Dame in Alençon.
The story of a miracle
Pietro was the last of a family of five children, born in Milan on 25 May 2002. From the day of his birth, he had a serious malformation of the lungs, and had to stay in hospital for intensive treatment to enable him to breathe.
His father recounted: “We were aware from the outset of the seriousness of his illness and that there was no hope of a cure. They asked our permission to do an x-ray of his lungs to find out more.”
A biopsy was considered essential but would be very risky for the little boy, so his parents decided to have him baptised at once. The asked an Italian Carmelite priest, P Antonio Sangalli, to administer the sacrament. He gave them a small picture of Louis and Zélie Martin.
“They had lost four children in infancy”, explained Adele, Pietro’s mother, “and praying to them helped and supported us in the trouble we were living through and in what the Lord was asking of us.”
The Schiliròs knew little of the life of Zélie and Louis beyond what they had read in the writings of the young Thérèse. In their uncertainty over Pietro’s health, they found a “strange closeness with the Martins”, said Valter.
“That was when we dared to ask of the Lord what was dearest to our hearts: for Pietro to be cured. The Lord put us in the hands of the Martins”, Adele remembers.
In the depths of their suffering, and seeing their baby linked up to so much artificial breathing equipment, Adele and Valter realised that they had to ask God to make known his wishes for Pietro.
“That was very important for us, because it helped us to see what our child was going through. He was living his calling to the full through his suffering and all that he bore. He was part of Jesus’ work as saviour of souls. That was the first miracle for us.”
On 26 June, Pietro suffered serious respiratory failure. “It was only a question of hours or a few days, the doctors told us – there was no hope for Pietro”, Adele continued.
They recited a novena several times over to the Martins, and on 29 June – the day when the Church celebrated the feast of St Peter and St Paul – Pietro began to show signs of improvement. In the space of two weeks, the child was able to breathe alone, without oxygen, and for the doctors his cure stood out as “an astonishing fact”. The boy’s parents spoke about it to P Antonio – who then became a postulant for the cause of the beatification of Zélie and Louis.
“We are truly full of gratitude. We don’t deserve it and we feel overwhelmed”, said Adele. Valter added, “We have done nothing to deserve this, absolutely nothing. What has happened to Pietro has repercussions for the whole Church. That is why we are here today to offer to the Pope this relic, which represents an important sign for the whole Church.”
Today Pietro is a normal child: he plays, goes to school, and is fully aware that his cure was due to the miracle obtained through the intercession of the Martins.
“Every evening he recites with the whole family the Martins’ prayer of intercession for all people who ask for their prayers,” said Adele.
“He also prays for the Pope and all our dear priest friends, and for a whole list of people; it takes the entire evening”, added Valter.
Pietro’s parents know full well what it means to put our trust in Providence when we suffer for the health of our children: “I would say to parents whose children are sick not to lose hope, and to grow nearer to Christ through His saints. Dare to ask, because the Lord is a good Father, and you need that strength to understand that what happens is for our good.”
“In times of trial, the Lord asks a lot of us, but if we put all our hope and confidence in Him, the Lord will shower us with yet more. Above all, you must ask for conversion of the heart – that is the first healing you need to seek, always”, Adele recommended.
Carmen Elena Villa
Translation from the Italian by E de Lavigne