How Life Has Changed for the Girl Who Recovered Her Sight at 2023 World Youth Day

Following the pontiff’s advice, they are currently working on writing up Jimena’s testimony and are awaiting a response from the archbishop of Madrid,

A view of the crowd and nearby waterfront at the opening Mass for World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal on Aug. 1, 2023.
A view of the crowd and nearby waterfront at the opening Mass for World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal on Aug. 1, 2023. (photo: Arlindo Homem/JMJ Lisboa 2023 / WYD)

Jimena, the young woman who regained her sight after receiving Communion at a Mass during World Youth Day (WYD) in Lisbon, Portugal, in August 2023, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, about how she experienced that moment, her return home, and the details of a special meeting she had with Pope Francis during a pilgrimage she made with her family to Rome to thank the Virgin for that “miracle.”

For two and a half years, Jimena suffered from a loss of sight due to a myopia problem that left her with a 95% vision loss.

She traveled to Lisbon from Madrid with a group from Opus Dei. During the days prior, relatives and acquaintances of the young woman organized a novena to pray to Our Lady of the Snows, whose feast day is commemorated Aug. 5, the same day she recovered her sight.

Time seemed to stop in that Madrid cafeteria where Jimena and her father spoke with ACI Prensa. With the simplicity of a 17-year-old girl and an expression full of light and hope, Jimena remembered in detail what she felt on that day last year when she was cured.

‘I cried from a sense of peace’

“When we came back from Communion I sat down in the pew and then all the nervousness I had felt suddenly disappeared. I had been shaking with nervousness, and when we got down on our knees after taking Communion, I closed my eyes, and I felt a lot of peace, and then I stopped shaking.”

After receiving the body of Christ in a church in Évora de Alcobaça, a town north of Lisbon, the young woman said she felt the need to cry, but it was not a normal cry: “I began to cry from a sense of peace, it had never happened to me before; I didn’t know that you could cry for feeling at peace.”

“I was like super peaceful, as if inside I already knew what had happened, without opening my eyes. And then I opened them, I dried my tears, and I could see the altar, the tabernacle perfectly...”

‘God’s plans are much bigger than ours’

She also recalled recognizing her friends, who began to celebrate with her over what had happened. “When the Mass was over, for thanksgiving, I went up to read the prayer of the Virgin of the Snows to give thanks.”

From that moment on, Jimena has been grateful every day for the “miracle” that made her understand “that you have to let yourself fall a little into the arms of God, because his plans are much bigger than ours. It’s more about trusting than trying to take our life of faith wherever we want.”

‘Our Mother doesn’t leave things halfway’

Her father recalled that just prior to the healing, Jimena was going to undergo emergency surgery in the operating room. “She prayed a lot to the Virgin that night, and the next day the convergence in her eye was cured,” so there was no need to operate, he said.

For her father, this first healing of his daughter had been a sign: “If you have a previous healing from the Virgin, then your faith is sustained by that. That is to say, Our Mother doesn’t leave things halfway, and she was not going to abandon us at that time.”

After some time after that “sign,” during a walk on the Rincón de la Victoria beach in Málaga, Spain, on the way to stop and pray before an image of the Our Lady of Mount Carmel that is among the rocks, father and daughter decided to abandon themselves completely to the Virgin.

“It was on that walk on the beach where we remembered a very important thing, which I believe is essential in this entire process, and that is to let God act, not to put God in our plans, but to be part of his. So, you change the way you pray. It’s not about praying for God to do what you want, but about praying to understand what God wants you to do.”

Jimena’s father explained that it was then “when we understood that we had to put together a novena for Aug. 5.”

The doctors’ opinion after ‘the miracle’

Upon returning from Portugal, Jimena visited the doctor who had followed her case in recent years and who due to her illness she didn’t know by face. “I couldn’t explain it to her, I was very emotional. And then a doctor also said that no matter at what point I might have been cured, it would never have been instantaneous,” the young woman related.

“Yes,” her father said, “she basically told us that she had no logical explanation; that within the medical possibilities, Jimena could have been cured little by little by the time she was 40 or 45 years old. So there was that possibility, but of course, at 16 years of age and so suddenly there are no previous cases — there are none.”

The young woman’s father said it was a very nice appointment with the doctor and that “all the nurses were excited to see her and gave her hugs. They did all the tests again and the condition was completely gone.”

Pope Francis encouraged pilgrimage to St. Mary Major

Upon returning from World Youth Day, Jimena wrote a letter to Pope Francis to tell him about her experience.

The Holy Father did not take long to respond and encouraged her and her family to make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, also known as St. Mary of the Snows, one of the most important basilicas in Rome dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows and for which the pontiff has a special love.

What Pope Francis did not know is that providentially the family had already planned — a year ago — a trip to Rome to spend the end of the year there.

“I got the tickets in January of last year, months before Jimena had been cured. We assumed that we would go to Rome with Jimena being blind, but look…” her father said, becoming emotional.

A special meeting with Pope Francis

During their trip to the Eternal City, which became a pilgrimage in gratitude to the Virgin, the family had a private meeting with the Holy Father and also participated in the Mass he offered on Jan. 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Jimena’s father recalled that everyone was “captivated” by Pope Francis, who received them for more than an hour in the Vatican’s St. Martha House with his typical closeness and familiarity.

Jimena’s father told ACI Prensa that the Pope gave them a lot of advice and encouraged them “to put down all of Jimena’s testimony in writing and to contact our bishop in Madrid.” 

Following the pontiff’s advice, they are currently working on writing up Jimena’s testimony and are awaiting a response from the archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal José Cobo Cano, whom they tried to contact a few months ago.

Regarding the doctors’ reaction, he said the Holy Father “stressed that this type of medical comment is admitted as valid in their process for miracles and so on. Because, as he told him, it’s very difficult for a doctor to manage to pronounce the word ‘miracle’ with all of their scientific knowledge.”

Jimena and the Virgin Mary

Jimena, who during this time has shared her testimony to small groups in Madrid, said she now has “a great deal of devotion” to Our Lady of the Snows but confesses that she has always had a bond with the Virgin Mary: “I feel her close every day.”

She also said that she has “a special affection for her, because in the end, in everything that has happened to me, I have always relied a lot on the Virgin, especially because it seemed easier for me to hold on to the rosary.”

“The Virgin, in the end, since she is an intercessor, that relationship that she has as a mother with us seemed easier to me. I see her as the mother that she is and that she appears, not physically, but she has little signs or things in which she shows us all that she is already here.”

Her father emphasized that Jimena has been able to understand that “she is not the protagonist of all this, but that she had a gift far above other people and that it is her responsibility to be generous and give it. But the protagonist in the end is the Virgin.”

“Since the miracle of Aug. 5 last year, they ask us to join novenas for healing people, and we join them all. But we do it anonymously, because I think it would be bad for people to think that Jimena has power. Another thing is that Jimena may have an extraordinary faith and a very great interior life, but that belongs to her private life,” her father noted.

He emphasized that “it’s a mistake to think that, suddenly, someone has power because they have received a gift. They are two very different things, and mixing them is a mistake. I believe that one of the beautiful things, which is also a grace of the Virgin, is being able to share her experience in personal and in-person testimonies so that other people come closer to the Lord. And that’s it. And the rest is pure superstition.”

The young woman’s father noted that there are many miracles in the Gospel whose recipients are people whose name is never known. Also, he stressed that today there are many miracles and that “Jimena’s has been more notable because the Virgin wanted it.”

“You have to leave it to her. She [the Virgin Mary] is the one who takes us to all corners [of the world]. It’s impossible for us to have planned with a large publicity budget to get to where this story has reached,” he pointed out.

‘The Eucharist is a much greater miracle’

For Jimena, “the Eucharist, in the end, is a much bigger miracle because it seems like it is hidden because it does not have — what do I know — lightning bolts falling from the sky or anything, but in the end it is God, who is the one who has allowed me to recover my sight and for us to all be here, the one who who comes down from heaven to put that in a piece of bread and that we receive it.”

“It seems to me that it is the moment in which we are closest to heaven here on earth, because in the end we are in union with God. So, I try to go to Mass whenever I can.”

A ‘new normal’

Jimena said with a smile that, before recovering her sight, she “had a list of books that I wanted read to me. The return to normal life has been a new normal in which I have done many things,” she said.

The young woman added that in a few days she will make a pilgrimage again to Rome with the group of her friends who were with her during World Youth Day.