The Miracle That Paved the Way for John Paul I’s Beatification

The Italian pope interceded for an 11-year-old suffering from brain dysfunction and septic shock amid uncontrollable seizures.

Pope John Paul I is seen in an undated file photo.
Pope John Paul I is seen in an undated file photo. (photo: Vatican Media / National Catholic Register)

After the doctors told Roxana Sosa that there was nothing else that they could do for her 11-year-old daughter, who was suffering from brain dysfunction and septic shock amid uncontrollable seizures, the mother went to pray in the Catholic church next to the hospital.

Inside the Buenos Aires’ church, she encountered Father José Dabusti, who came to pray at her daughter’s bedside on the night of July 22, 2011.

The priest proposed that they entrust her daughter, Candela Giarda, to the intercession of the Servant of God Pope John Paul I, and together they prayed.

Earlier that day, doctors at the Favaloro Foundation had used the words “imminent death” to describe Candela’s condition, according to the Vatican Congregation of the Causes of Saints website.

Candela had suddenly become ill four months earlier with what was eventually diagnosed as Febrile Infection-Related Epilepsy Syndrome.

In March 2011, Roxana brought Candela to a hospital in their hometown of Paraná, in northeastern Argentina, “with refractory status epilepticus.” 

“I took her to the pediatric hospital in Paraná, and she was admitted to therapy. In a few hours, she was in a coma, on a respirator. She had convulsions, and they tried different anticonvulsants, but nothing worked,” Roxana told reporters in an interview with the Argentine news site Infobae.

The numerous daily epileptic seizures made it necessary to intubate her daughter, who was transferred in an ambulance for more than 300 miles to the intensive care unit in the Favaloro Foundation research hospital in Buenos Aires in May that year.

“Since we had arrived at Favaloro, Cande got worse instead of better. She had no life expectancy. They even told me to go back to Paraná so that she would die at home," Roxana said.

But after praying with Father Dabusti for the intercession of John Paul I, her daughter began to show signs of improvement overnight.

Roxana later admitted that she knew little at the time about the Italian pope who had served only 33 days in office before dying unexpectedly in 1978. But she told the Argentine news site that she trusted what the priest was proposing to her without hesitation and asked the intercession of Pope John Paul I exclusively.

The nursing staff in the intensive care unit also joined in their prayers for the intercession of the former pope, according to the Vatican.

“On July 23, 2011, unexpectedly, there was a rapid improvement in septic shock, which continued with the subsequent recovery of hemodynamic and respiratory stability,” the Vatican website said.

Two weeks later, Candela was extubated; and by Aug. 25 her status epilepticus was resolved. She was discharged from the hospital on Sept. 5.

Father Dabusti reported what had taken place to the Vatican and received instructions to write down with precise details everything that had happened regarding Candela’s health. 

Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the local archbishop at the time that the miracle took place in Buenos Aires in 2011. He would go on to become Pope Francis in 2013.

After the Vatican investigation into Candela’s healing concluded, Pope Francis recognized the  event as a miracle obtained through the intercession of John Paul I on Oct. 13, 2021.

Today, Candela is 21 years old and pursuing a veterinary degree. She is not currently taking any medications.

As her mother said, “Miracles exist, and I saw it with Cande.”