By Ben Cal
MANILA , Dec. 23 (PNA) – “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
This was a case of a seriously ill retired bank employee given by his doctors a 50-50 chance to survive, but miraculously recover from his illness after his family prayed the Novena of Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Our Lady of Health) recently revived by the Catholic Church in the Philippines 72 years after being hidden from public devotion.
“I believe that our Lord God Jesus Christ healed me through the intercession of the Blessed Mother also known by the name Nuestra Señora de la Salud or Our Lady of Health,” said Greg Montes during an exclusive interview with this writer over the weekend.
Montes said he was rushed to the Commonwealth Hospital and Medical Center in Fairview, Quezon City last November 15 due to continued vomiting.
He was diagnosed of having multiple organ infections, foremost of which was his pancreas, and his liver, kidneys, lungs and heart were also infected.
A team of physicians led by Dr. Ricardo Javison, a cardiologist, told his wife, Marietta that her husband condition was critical and was given a 50-50 chance to live. His wife and children cried.
Montes was immediately brought to the intensive care unit (ICU). His family called a priest, Rev. Fr. Elpidio Z. Luza, SCJ, of the San Roue Parish in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, to administer the Extreme Unction to the very seriously ill patient.
A week later, a mutual friend, Antonietto “Boy” Pernia, consultant of Bohol Congressman Aris Aumentado, texted this writer that Greg was in the hospital and in a very serious condition.
Having not seen each other since 1972, this writer visited Greg at the ICU. I handed to his wife a novena prayer booklet of Nuestra Señora de la Salud which his wife was thankful.
I whispered to my friend, Greg just pray repeatedly “Jesus, I trust in you!” which he said later he did.
In the meantime, his family prayed the novena daily, asking Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession for healing. They also prayed for the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrecina.
Their prayers were answered by God, and a few days later, Greg was transferred to the recovery room.
Dr. Javison told Greg: “Matibay ang fighting spirit mo!” to which he replied: “Doc, God answered our prayers, because prayer is number one.
Last November 30, Greg was discharged from the hospital and now on his way to full recovery.
“It was a miracle! Our Lady of Health healed me,” he said over the phone.
The healing of Montes probably was the first documented healing of a very sick patient in the Philippines since the Novena to Nuestra de las Salud was re-started for public veneration on Nov. 17, 2017 after 72 years in hibernation.
Dr. Javison also told Montes that with such numerous ailments, the ratio of survival rate is two out of 10. But with prayers, he was healed.
The Montes’ family also thanked the attending physicians, Dr. Javison, , Dr. Gari T. Recodo (gastroenterology); Dr. Jonathan Latonio (pulmonology), and Dr. Juan Paolo Lagunzad (nephrology).
The couple is blessed with four children Erwin, Janice, Thadeau Jude, and Shiela. They have three grandchildren, Eliana Mari,Enrico Gabriel, and Ethan Liam.
Greg formerly worked with the Equity Philippine Commercial Bank International. He was once an employee of the Bohol Chronicle/Station DYRD .
The veneration of the miraculous image of the 382-year old Nuestra Señora de la Salud was brought by Spanish Recoletos priests to the Philippines from Mexico in the year 1632.
It was during the arduous and long sea voyage that the priest discovered the healing power of God when many of the crew members on board the galleon boat were stricken with various ailments.
The Recoletos fathers decided to pray to invoke the intercession of the Blessed Mother for healing. In no time, their prayers were answered as all of those sick were miraculously healed.
According to the history of the holy image of Nuestra Señora de la Salud, the friars initially housed the statue in a church in San Juan town upon arriving in Manila 385 years ago.
But years later, the San Juan Church was destroyed by strong typhoon.
However, the holy image was intact.
It was transferred to the San Nicolas Church in Manila where the faithful had their novena for decades until the end of World War II.
Manila was practically reduced to rubbles during the fighting from February 3 to March 3, 1945, but miraculously for the second time, the image of Nuestra Señora de la Salud was unscathed.
At that point, the Recoletos fathers took the image for safekeeping at the church’s sacristy from 1945 to 2017 when the Philippine Catholic hierarchy decided to expose again the miraculous image for public veneration.
Last month, the devotion to the Nuestra Señora del la Salud (Our Lady of Health) was revived after 72 years, and the miraculous image is now permanently enshrined at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish in Barangay Toro, Project 6, Quezon City
Catholics are enjoined to visit the Our Lady of Health image at the San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Church just behind the SM Cherry Supermarket on Congressional Avenue.
Since the Novena to Nuestra Señora del la Salud was revived last month, many devotees have been visiting the church daily.
In the coming days, all roads will lead to San Nicolas Church for a pilgrimage to the holy image of the Blessed Virgin Mary to ask for healing, body and soul. (PNA)