Healing at the Marian Shrine
Natalia Bodnik LOGOS EDITOR
Photo: Marian Shrine of Gratitude. (Natalia Bodnik / THE MIKE)
On a day in October 2004, Ukrainian Catholic Basilian priest Fr. Basil Cembalista, OSBM, cleans up tree branches behind a Basilian monastery. As he tosses a dry branch, a sharp end of the branch ricochets and pierces his right eye, causing him severe pain. At this moment, the priest calls on the Blessed Virgin Mary to save his eye. As he does so, he feels Her calming presence and protection. By the graces of the Blessed Virgin Mary, his sight is somehow unaffected. In fact, Fr. Basil’s eyesight improves significantly over two days. One doctor, who mentions that Fr. Basil has undergone some kind of a miracle, notices the first signs of trauma.
Fr. Basil’s renewed vision is definitely a scientific anomaly. A second doctor notices the significant changes in Fr. Basil’s eyesight and is astounded. In his late 60s, Fr. Basil has gone from strong prescription lenses to no prescription at all.
In the Catholic Register, ophthalmologist Dr. Mathias Boermans who oversaw Fr. Basil’s eye condition at the time noted, “There is no explanation scientifically speaking.”
Two graces were granted for the priest. Firstly, he received full healing of his injured eye. Secondly, he received full restoration of his eyesight, to which he no longer needed to wear glasses in his old age. Miraculously, even until his recent death at age 77, his eyes were still perfect.
Many Catholics, along with Fr. Basil, believed this corporal healing was a result of the miraculous intercession by the Blessed Virgin Mary. The healing grace bestowed upon Fr. Basil stirred another intention in his heart — to thank Mother Mary by resurrecting a monument of gratitude in Her honour at the site of his miracle.
In 2005, a Marian shrine had been constructed for the sole purpose of private prayer, but slowly transformed into public veneration by various people. People of diverse ethnic backgrounds, cultures, races, and religious affiliations would frequent this Marian monument and ask for graces from the Blessed Mother. The Blessed Mother never left them without restored hope, comfort, or granted requests.
One of the first graces granted includes a mother who did not receive a call or a visit from her daughter for a long time. However, soon after a group rosary prayer, the daughter called her mother and asked for forgiveness. Her mother cried. This immediate grace occurred precisely after Fr. Basil asked for everyone’s special intentions before the recitation of the rosary. The mother’s intention to have contact with her daughter came to fruition.
The Marian shrine is comprised of a beautiful garden that’s managed yearly by visitors who believe that tending to the Blessed Mother’s healing site brings them great joy. Over the years, several masses, rosary processions, and personal prayers have brought a collective unity among people and closeness to the Holy Mother like never before. The healing graces cast down upon visitors range from spiritual to corporal. People feel their blessings as a manifestation of the Blessed Mother’s love for them. One visitor describes the feeling of a hand on her shoulder at a time of emotional unrest.
“I was praying to the Marian monument and I said, ‘Mother Mary, please help me.’ All of a sudden, I felt a firm touch with a hand on my shoulder. I thought someone was behind me. It was when I turned to see no one that I realized Mother Mary’s presence is powerful. Here at the shrine, the Holy Mother has direct communication with God’s children. There’s this spiritual pull to keep believing.”
The garden and monument bring a sense of calm and peace to people who undergo spiritual troubles, mental and emotional issues, or physical sicknesses. Several people come to bask in beautiful sunsets and thank the Blessed Mother and God. Whatever the case and whatever the worry, the shrine is open for all to come and surrender to the Blessed Mother and God. Fr. Basil noted, “This is how people here find the nourishment that they need in everyday spiritual life.” The precise nourishment involves perseverance in prayer and unwavering belief in the Blessed Mother’s love for people. By igniting your faith, special graces are granted every day. Sometimes, we fail to notice miracles in our mundane surroundings. And sometimes, it takes one major healing, like Fr. Basil’s, to show us that we must have hope and believe with all of our hearts in the power of the Heavenly Mother and the Holy Spirit. May we always remember a beloved priest’s story of his special graces granted by the Heavenly Mother.