I've alluded to this story and the time has come, at long last, to reveal it to the willing!
Little Audrey is a girl who nearly drowned in an above ground pool in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1987. Though she was revived, she had been oxygen deprived for about ten minutes. Her family describes what happened next:
Audrey recovered but was rushed to the hospital where she was overmedicated. The doctor prescribed too much Phenobarbital, and Audrey lapsed into a coma.Sound familiar yet? In any event, what follows next is the part of the story that totally boggles the mind. Audrey's mother, Linda, who is very religious, heard about a place in then-Yugoslavia where a group of children were reported to have had visions of the Virgin Mary. Linda had decided that she could offer Audrey better care than any nursing facility, and thus had moved Audrey home, where she lay prone in a large bed in the family's living-room hooked up to a feeding-tube machine. When Linda heard the children in Yugoslavia had performed miraculous healings, she decided to take Audrey, despite the obvious difficulty (not to mention extreme risk) involved in such an undertaking:
The hospital’s physical therapist broke Audrey’s legs and dislocated her shoulder. Then the doctor insisted on insertion of a tracheotomy tube. She remained in ICU with 24-hour nursing care. She was out of the coma in three weeks. She remains in a state called Akinetic Mutism — non-moving, non-speaking.
Audrey survived the flight and they finally arrived in Medjugorje after a three-hour journey from Dubrovnik. Here Linda and Audrey were allowed to be present twice during the apparitions. Linda recalls these moments as very emotional: "When Ivan (one of the visionaries) went into ecstasy and Our Lady appeared, we all cried".Sounds pretty good, right? I would be pretty stoked if any apparation appeared to me. I like the translation issue introduced; doesn't God speak in all languages?
The apparitions lasted about seven to ten minutes. On both occasions something unusual happened. Normally the visionaries did not speak with people after the apparitions, but on these two occasions, Ivan Immediately went straight to Audrey, bent over her and spoke to her in Croatian. The fact that Audrey could not verbally reply did not prevent him from speaking to her.
Nobody ever learned what he told her during those magic moments. "I never found out and I never asked him," Linda says. "I figured if I were supposed to know, he’d tell me". He never did, but Linda firmly believes that during this time, Audrey communicated with the Virgin Mary in some mysterious way.
Does Audrey now understand all languages? I'm not sure, but in any event what occurs next is spectacular:
After these events, Audrey did actually appear to come to life. She moved her head and hands and her eyes seemed to come alive. Linda went into a swoon of joy, which turned abruptly to horror as Audrey fell back on her bed and had a heart attack. They rushed to the nearest hospital. But antiquated equipment and no oxygen greeted them here. So for long hours, they zigzagged across the region, looking for something better, somehow keeping Audrey alive. The family tried to arrange a flight home, but officials would not allow passage because of Audrey’s condition.
Through the intervention of U.S. Rep. Joseph D. Early, Audrey was finally Med-Evaced to Frankfurt and then home to Massachusetts aboard a medically equipped Air Force plane. A $25,000 mortgage had to be taken out on Audrey's grandmother house, to pay for these unexpected expenses.
At least the Government made them pay for the flight back. These days, I have no doubt the government would happily foot the bill for a wayward zealot in a ridiculous, potentially deadly, self-created mess like this one. And of course Audrey wasn't healed.
Linda Santo's response to the near-fatal incident was to blame it on the proximity of a Yugoslavian abortion clinicWhat to do? Turn to obscure Catholic doctrine of course! Audrey's mother decided that the Virgin Mary (through the Slavic-seer) told Audrey she had been selected to become a "Victim Soul", basically a Christ figure who suffers for others. Not the best job, but the story doesn't end there. Soon after Audrey returned to Worcester a mysterious oil began appearing in various votive vessels in Audrey's room.In an even more exciting turn of events, statues of Jesus were seen to bleed!Soon a loyal congregation began gathering for weekly ceremonies in Audrey's garage. The sick came to her to be healed. The mysterious oil, which is still flowing, is available for free. Despite the doubts of the local Catholic Diocese, Linda Santo is adamant in her faith in the validity of Audrey's victim soul-hood:
"She cannot speak, but she knows everything. She is not in a coma . . . she's in that room with her Jesus seven days a week, adoring him, waiting on him, serving him, and he's blessing her."
Okay, sounds totally rational. In any event, this is only a brief overview of a fascinating and important case. In my estimation Audrey Santo is a kind of Terri Schiavo in reverse: someone whose guardian is overconcerned with keeping her alive because she has in a sense become the family's silent bread winner. Is it exploitative? You bet. Is it protected because it involves "religious practice" and a mother and her daughter? Most likely. The Catholic Church shut down their mini-chapel back in the mid nineties, but terminally ill visitors are still allowed to visit once a month. More on this sordid tale as I learn it, but I hope this has restored something of alost sense of balance to your life.