Click here to see a clip of Nightline co-anchor,Bill Wier, interviewing Christine Watkins, author of Full of Grace, and asking pilgrims, “What does the Virgin Mary look like?”
To see the entire ABC show on Mary, click here.
Flerida Gutierrez had little idea that her pilgrimage to Medjugorje in June, with Trinity Pilgrimages and Michael Brown of Spirit Daily, would mean revealing to approximately eight million viewers across the nation that she was a woman of faith, and that she was a woman with stage four cancer.
On this pilgrimage, ABC News producer, Jenna Millman, and Nightline co-anchor, Bill Weir, along with a camera man, accompanied the pilgrimage to film the Medjugorje portion of their special on the Virgin Mary, which aired Wednesday, July 13th. The diminutive, humble, yet vocal Philippina woman, affectionately known as Flerida, was filmed being prayed over by the Medjugorje visionary, Vicka, who placed her loving hand on Flerida’s bowed head. Flerida was “slain in the Spirit” and rested peacefully on her side for a full half hour. So what happened to her during that time?
Here is Flerida’s full story, in her own words . . .
In November of 2010, I received test results showing that I had three cancerous nodules in my liver. I traveled to Medjugorje, to ask the Blessed Mother to pray for my healing, but I also completely surrendered to the idea of death. None of us are going to stay here on earth forever. We’re going to go back home.
On the day of the pilgrimage, when we went to see Vicka give her talk, on the steps of her parents’ small Medjugorje home, I was hoping to be one of the three hundred pilgrims in the crowd to receive prayer from Vicka, who individually laid her hands on every pilgrim present. I felt like I needed her prayers, but since our group arrived later than other pilgrims, some of whom had been waiting now for an hour or two to hear Vicka speak, I assumed I wouldn’t be able to get close to her. “But even if she doesn’t pray over me,” I said in my heart, “I know, Mother Mary, that you will pray to Jesus for me.”
Then our pilgrimage guide, Miki Musa, suddenly whisked me away from where I was standing. My husband, Max, standing next to me, turned around, and I was gone. Miki didn’t tell me where we were going, and I assumed he was bringing me closer to Vicka. “How can we get through these crowds?” I asked.
“Just trust me,” he said, and proceeded to press forward, holding my hand, parting waves in the crowd, saying, “Excuse me, excuse me.”
Before long, I was standing at the front of the crowd, just at the base of the stairs, where Vicka speaks. I knew then that I was going to be prayed over by Vicka, since I was now so close to where she would speak. Out of gratitude and joy, I became hysterical, and started crying.
At the same time, I felt so badly, cutting in front of these people who had been waiting a long time. I was wearing my favorite pair of large sunglasses, which look like something Jackie Onassis wore, and someone asked me, “Are you blind?”
“Good!” I thought to myself. Let them think I’m blind, so no one feels any resentment. There should only be stillness, peace, hope, and joy in people’s hearts at this moment, not because their lives are perfect, but because the Blessed Mother is with all of them.
Then a Croatian woman said to me, “Would you mind going up the steps?”
“Me?” I asked
“Yes,” she said.
Before I could blink twice, I was standing on the balcony of Vicka’s parents’ home. My husband said he spotted me there, wondering how this had happened.
Then Vicka walked past me, and Miki whispered something into her ear. She looked at me with kindness and told me to go inside the house.
I started crying again hysterically. She looked at me and said, “Shh . . .” as if to say, “Don’t worry, there should only be joy.” Then she hugged me tightly for a long time. With that embrace, I felt like I was being held, not by Vicka, but by arms of the Blessed Mother herself.
“Please pray over me,” I said to her.”
“I know, I know,” she said. She knew what I had come for.
Vicka motioned for me to sit on a couch. She put her strong right hand on my head and started praying over me in Croatian, while I continued to cry. Then I rested peacefully in the Spirit. When I came to, the ABC crew told me I had been lying down on my right side for a half hour, but I was not aware of my body, or how long I was in an altered state.
To explain what happened next, I should mention that I speak four languages, with English being my second language. I came to the United States forty-two years ago, at age twenty-two. When I was a little girl growing up in the Philippines, my parents spoke to me in a dialect called Pampango. For years, I hadn’t used or heard this language, especially since my parents are deceased and my husband speaks only English and Tagalog, the National language of the Philippines.
As I lay down, resting in the Spirit, I was thinking of the Blessed Mother, and my soul felt completely still, immersed a beautiful, heavenly peace. I sensed Mary’s presence with me. I could not make out her face, but I knew she was there. Then she spoke to me in a voice that was as clear as any woman’s voice spoken near me in my waking hours. In the Pampango dialect, in the language of my childhood, I heard her say, “My child, you came.” Those four short words contained so much love and meaning! I sensed that she was smiling at me and expressing her joy over my coming in Medjugorje. I woke up crying and smiling at the same time and feeling weightless.
The medical tests I took in November were repeated after I came back from Medjugorje; and where there used to be three cancerous nodules in my liver, now there is only one. Either they consolidated, or two of them disappeared. I feel good, I don’t have any symptoms whatsoever. I eat well. I sleep eight hours a day. I am so strong. Just the other day, I saw an oncologist from Germany, and she told me that, in her entire career, she hasn’t seen anyone with stage four cancer who looks as healthy as I do.
I truly believe I will be healed. I will know more in four months, when I take another CAT scan. I am looking forward to going back to Medjugorje, to thank the Lord for a complete healing. At this time, I believe I am helping along my healing and keeping my immune system strong, because I have such a positive attitude. I have surrendered myself completely to the Lord. I am not afraid to die. What is there to fear? I believe that we are just on a journey. Before we leave this life, we pass through so many hills and valleys, and then our passports will expire. At the end of life, God will take care of our loved ones, and God will take care of us. We have to go home. And if it’s not my time yet, I’ve told God, “If you will extend my visa here on hearth, I will speak for You. I will speak of Your power, Your mercy, Your glory, and Your unconditional love.”
Shortly after I returned home to Las Vegas, from Medjugorje, a fellow pilgrim, Julie Quintana from Los Angeles, said she would be coming my way to visit relatives. I invited her to my prayer group the evening she was in town, and there to my great joy and delight, she shared her own testimony of healing in Medjugorje. Here’s what she said:
The Wednesday before I left on my trip to Medjugorje, I had to have a biopsy done on my breast. I also received test results from a papsmear, which revealed I had a polyp in my cervix and pre-cancerous cells. I couldn’t see a specialist for this in such short notice, and would have to wait until I returned from my pilgrimage. So off I went to Medjugorje in a daze, wondering why on earth I was going to travel across the world at such a time.
One of the many beautiful gifts of Medjugorje, standing a few yards behind St. James Church, is a statue of the crucified Christ, which has been exuding a special oil from its right knee, continuously for many years now. Healings have been attributed to this oil, so my roommate Sue Larson stood in a line of pilgrims to collect some of this liquid. She decided to bless her eyes with drops of the liquid, since she’d had eye surgery in the past, and preferred not to go through it again. I touched the oil with my fingers, made the sign of the cross, and put the special oil on several handkerchiefs I’d brought as gifts; and then I placed a drop of the oil on the center of my right breast, on top of my clothing, just over where there was a cluster of calcifications in the ducts, where the biopsy was done.
As we were walking away from the crucifix, Sue stopped and exclaimed, “My eyes are burning with heat!” She was feeling an intense sensation of heat in the tissue of her eyes, from the top of her eyelids down to the top of her cheekbones. After she said this, I stopped in my tracks. I, too, was feeling a strong heat where the oil had touched my body, both on my fingertips and on the exact spot on my right breast. Finding this hard to believe, three times I tested how that area on my right breast felt, compared with my left. Each time the left one was cold, while the right one was very warm, not only externally, but internally as well.
We arrived home on Wednesday the 15th of June, and a week later, I received a report that my breast biopsy was benign. Then I saw the specialist, who put a big scope inside of me, which magnifies my insides with bright lights. “There is nothing there,” he said, “absolutely nothing. There’s no polyp, and the precancerous cells are completely gone.”
I wanted to know how he was responding to this news, so I asked him to explain this, and he said, “Well sometimes the body heals itself.”
“Well I just went on a religious pilgrimage, I told him.”
And he responded with a smile, “It could be that.”
Later, Sue and I were talking, and I said, “Sue, I have absolutely nothing wrong with me. And you know what? This was a plan in God’s heart, because He knew I was going to receive these difficult test results, and He whisked me off to Medjugorje to help me. On that trip I felt very positive that I would be fine. By the end of the tip, I somehow knew that I didn’t have cancer. I just knew I’d been healed.”
By Christine Watkins