Eight years ago, doctors in Mexico disconnected an infant named Ximena Galvez from life support, convinced that she was brain dead.
On Sunday, Ximena was giving Pope Francis a big hug during Mass in St. Peter’s Square.
The eight-year-old’s incredible story came into the spotlight as José Sánchez del Río, a martyr of Mexico’s Cristero War, was declared a saint of the Church.
Paulina Galvez, Ximena’s mother, is convinced it was through the intercession of St. Jose—affectionately called St. Joselito by Mexicans—that her daughter was spared death. And the Church agrees with her, using the medically-unexplainable healing as a sign from God that Joselito is a saint.
Paulina Galvez is from Sahuayo in the Mexican state of Michoacan, where St. Joselito was born in 1913 and martyred in 1928. It is an area of Mexico where Cristeros, including St. Joselito, fought bravely for religious liberty, and now is undergoing a new trial, with the increased activity of drug cartels.
Speaking with Aleteia in Rome, she described herself as “someone who’s been abundantly blessed and is very loved by God and our Blessed Mother.”
Would you briefly describe what happened to your daughter eight years ago?
My daughter had meningitis, tuberculosis, epilepsy; they had to remove a lung; she had a stroke. When they gave her to me, they told me she was already in a “vegetative state.” … I told them that I don’t believe in doctors but I believe in Our Lord and that’s when I began to cling to [Him].
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What convinced you that it was the intercession of Jose that brought healing to your daughter?
When they told me she had 72 hours to live, according to the doctors, and that I would bring her home dead, I saw that the first time that I went and I put an image of mi niño (Jose Sanchez) with her, she squeezed my finger. The second time, she moved her leg. The third time, she opened and closed her eyes each time I showed her the image, and each time I began to pray. And that’s when I discovered that my daughter was okay, that our Lord and our Mother were with her and that mi niño, Jose Sanchez, had her in his arms. And she responded each time I put his image before her eyes.
Tell us about the Vatican’s process of investigation.
It was seven and a half very long years, with studies — going to various hospitals, doctors. Over and over again. Studies and more studies. It was a very long process that I think was a nightmare for me, but that thanks be to God, we managed it, and now we can say that our niño, Jose Sanchez del Rio, has been raised to the altars and is recognized as a saint around the world.
How is Ximena now?
Happy. Very full of love, of health, of happiness. She is very blessed. And I think closer to God than most other kids.
How has your life changed with all of this?
It’s been totally different. I feel closer to God and to our blessed Mother. I’ve experienced more deeply the love that God has for us, and how great he is. And to see now how we are going to repay all that he has done for us, all the ways that he has helped me. To see the love he has for us. That his timing is perfect. And that at his side, we need not be afraid of anything.
We saw that there was a very warm embrace between Ximena and the Holy Father and also you and the Holy Father.
It was a dream come true for both of us to be so close to him, to be able to share our joy there with him, and above all, show him our gratitude that thanks to him, our niño could be canonized. And to ask him to truly pray for peace in the world, in our families, and to tell him that we truly love him and pray for him.
Did he say anything to you in particular?
He said that he loved us very much too and that we should pray for him.
This article is based on an interview facilitated by Mariangeles Burger and Luz Ivonne Ramírez Padilla.