It was a short ride, and just before getting to our destination, we passed Queen of Heaven cemetery on our left, which is right across the street from the cemetery where we needed to go to. (There are a LOT of cemeteries in the area!) We spied a large crucifix and a small gathering of people surrounding it.
"What's going on there?" Pam asked.
"Oh, that's where that miracle happened," Tommy said.
"What are you talking about?" She said.
"You know, the Virgin Mary appeared there about 20 years ago. People still continue to go there."
I said, "Let's go check it out."
So Pam drove into the cemetery. We were thinking about looking up our aunt and uncle who were buried there when Tom piped up, "I'm being drawn to this place...turn left (to the crucifix)."
Pam parked in the small lot immediately opposite the cross.
I tried to be discreet in taking a photo of the cross and the people praying, not wanting to intrude.
We walked around the cross to the little shrine off to the side. There we saw a statue of the Blessed Virgin, several flowers, a round, reddish stone, and rosaries in small packages that were lined up on the walls on either side.
If you look closely, you can see a hole in the stone. The cross used to stand inside the stone.
Pam said, "I don't know why, but I feel like we should all touch this stone."
I put my hand down first on the stone, then Pam and Tommy, together laid their hands on the stone. At that moment a small wind came by and blew a rosary RIGHT ON THE STONE onto Tommy's hand.
Both Pam and I felt it was a sign that Tommy should take the rosary.
"Tommy, take the rosary." Pam insisted
"No, No, I can't."
There was a man standing next to me and I turned and said, "Can we take a rosary?"
He said, "Sure, they are there for anyone."
We didn't see any kind of a donation bucket around, either.
So Pam took the rosary and tucked it in Tommy's pocket.
I walked back to the cross and noticed that the feet of Jesus were worn to a bright gold from everyone touching them. So I touched them and said a prayer.
The woman who led the group in prayer began to tell us the story of the miracle that happened long ago. It started with a man named Joseph Reinholtz. On September 19, 1980 he suddenly lost his vision and was hospitalized for five days. For many years he continued to experience periods of blurriness and blindess. In 1987, Joseph decided to go on a pilgrimage to Medjugore in Bosnia, where the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared to six children. He met with one of them, Vicka. She prayed over him and Joseph promised that he would dedicate the remaining days of his life to working and praying for the terminally ill.
Joseph returned to Bosnia in 1989 and met up with Vicka again. She told him that when he returned home he was to look for a crucifix about 15 feet tall between two trees, one of which was three-branched. Once he found this place, he was to go there and pray.
When Joseph returned home, he searched the local area and found exactly what Vicka had described in the military section at Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, a suburb of Chicago. Every day for two years Joseph returned to this area to pray. During this time, the crucifix bled. The cross had been placed in that stone....and that is why the stone was red; stained from the blood of Christ. Our Blessed Mother appeared to Joseph on a couple of occasions. Finally the media got a hold of this information. If people came with their rosaries and touched the cross with them, the beads turned to a golden color. Pam remembered when a neighbor went to this site twenty years ago; she came over to our house to show our mother her rosary and how it had turned "golden".
Due to the large amount of people coming to see and pray at the crucifix, it was moved to a more open area and a parking lot was built.
The woman telling us this story continued with many, many more stories of miracles that happened at this location. She had pictures from 10 years ago, showing light pouring out of one of Christ's hands on the cross. Or light coming down from the sky to the cross, with an image of Mary in the light. Many, many photos that looked older, that I believed, couldn't have been "photo-shopped".
Now, I'm not asking you to believe, or not to believe. I am NOT trying to convert you to any kind of religion here. I don't care WHAT kind of religion you have, if any.
I am just telling you an honest story of what happened that day.
For some reason, we were compelled to go to this cemetery.
To pray at this cross.
To touch this stone.
To give this rosary to Tommy.
To hear these stories of the miracles that took place where we stood.
The three of us were silent as we climbed back into the car, lost in our own thoughts for a few minutes.
Tommy died four days later.
Tommy had a rough few years. But the last year he was on the mend. My sister was by his side, helping him in any way she could.
That's all I know is that Tommy was a good person.
And he made my sister laugh.
I will cherish that Sunday we spent together.
Rest in Peace Tommy
1955 - 2011
|Pam and Tom, July 2011|