Remarkable Cure of Rita Francis Rizzo (Mother Angelica)
I, Rita Francis, so hereby swear that all the facts given below are true:
In April, 1939 , I became very ill with what seemed to doctors at that time the lack of all calcium in my body. This condition made me extremely nervous. So much so, that during school, I could not stand the crowds and noise and as a result I would run home. What we thought then, the lack of calcium, was really the beginning of my illness. By taking calcium injections and nerve medicine, this condition seemed to be relieved until December 1940.
In December I became very ill with stomach spasms. These spasms would last about an hour. The spasms would begin by first, my knees and elbows becoming very weak. Then my stomach and intestines would quiver and my hands, forehead, and feet would become very cold and it seemed I perspired by the gallons. The only thing that helped were several cups of hot water. After the spasms a diarrhea would follow and last for about a day. The spasms were so frequent that I was unable to ride any buses or do any work at all. Also, during the spasms I would get very sharp pains in the stomach and several times would double up. These spasms would occur about three times a week.
In July 1941, when Dr. James Pagano examined me he first thought it was either ulcers or gall bladder. Different medicines proved it was neither of these. In November, 1941, Dr. Pagano sent me to Mercy Hospital for x-rays. I was there for one day and a half. The X-rays showed that I had Ptosis of the stomach. This is commonly known as “dropped stomach”. Dr. Pagano told me, after examining the X-rays, that my stomach had dropped down to the pelvic bone. He also said that an obstruction was made at the mouth of my stomach. As my stomach was dropped the tendon would stretch over the mouth of the stomach, closing it, and thereby causing great pain. Dr. Papoff, who took the X-rays, prescribed a surgical belt to be specially made. This was made by Mrs. Bechley of the Bowman Drug Company. This belt seemed to help until April of 1942 when I again had spasms, at which time I went to Dr. Wiley Scott.
Dr. Scott told me the pad in the garment was too small and that it would have to be 1- 1/8 ” thick and 6” long and 4-1/2” wide. He also told me that I would have to sleep with my bed elevated 8” at the foot. I was not allowed to take it off unless I was in bed, or to get out of bed unless I had it on. My bed being elevated, pushed my stomach in place so that I could take the garment off without suffering. In the morning I would have to balance myself on my heels and shoulders and then put the garment on. When I would get up and my stomach fall it would rest on the pad.
When my stomach would fall, besides these spasms, I would have a very heavy feeling in the stomach. At times I thought that I wouldn’t last another day. One evening, I decided to see how long I could stand it without the garment. I took it off and as I glanced down at my stomach the lower part of my abdomen was very large and at the left side there was lump about the size of a lemon. I was up for only fifteen minutes when my stomach began to hurt and five minutes later I had to put on the surgical belt. The pain stopped almost instantly. Without a garment the only way I could live would have been to stay in bed.
Before my x-rays were taken I lost twenty pounds. All the food that I ate would lay at the very bottom of my stomach and therefore, do me no good at all. It would take me three times as much time to digest food as compared to normal people.
In November of this year I became very ill with these spasms again. This time my nerves were worse than ever. Mother thought perhaps I should get a new surgical belt. The pad in this garment was larger and very uncomfortable. This garment kept my stomach up but this pressure was so great that large blisters were formed on both hips. The blisters broke and the skin rubbed off. The staves from this garment prevented me from bending over. The pain from this garment was so great that I was forced to go home from work. I was in bed 10 days. The scabs on my hips prevented me from putting on my garment. My nerves were shot. I couldn’t sleep or eat. My hands would shake and my left arm would get numb. After ten days in bed I went back to work. But my garment was so uncomfortable that it made me extremely nervous. I couldn’t type, write, or even concentrate. I was forced to quit a course I was taking at Canton Actual because I couldn’t concentrate.
My garment had been sent to Mrs. Bechley to see if she could in any way make the garment more comfortable. The garment was sent to her three times. After the third time, I decides to wear it whether I suffered or not. Dr. Scott said that operations were not successful. Garments and medicine did me no good. I had never been without pain one day since my illness began until January 8,1943 when I went to see Mrs. Wise.
That night I shall never forget. I can’t express the feelings I had when I sat in the chair Our Blessed Lord sat on. We were there a half hour. Mrs. Wise gave me the prayer to the Little Flower and told me to make some sort of sacrifice and to tell the Little Flower that if I were cured I would spread the devotion. I did all this and Mother and friends said the novena with me.
Saturday I went to work with my garment on and felt fine. On Friday, January 8, I had suffered all day and all that week. Sunday morning I was cured. During the night I would wake up about every hour and something would seem to tell me not put the garment on Sunday morning. And another voice would say to put it on. “You won’t be cured, it’s all a fake.” Then I’d go back to sleep and in another hour the same thing would happen.
During the night I got the sharpest pain in my stomach that I have ever had. It seemed that something was pulling my stomach right out. Sunday morning when I got up to go to 11:30 Mass I got up without my garment and the lump that was there before was gone. My stomach was up. I walked around the house for an hour and the heavy feeling that I always had was also gone. I walked to church, which is a half mile, and knelt during Mass without any pain whatsoever.
Sunday afternoon the devil was tempting me. By tempting me I mean, putting thoughts into my mind. Thoughts that said I was not cured and Our Lord cannot perform miracles. I told my Grandmother of these thoughts and she told me to make the sign of the cross when they came. When I did these thoughts disappeared immediately.
From that day on I have had absolutely no pain. The lump is gone, the spasms and heaviness is gone. Before I couldn’t stay up fifteen minutes without great pain. Now I eat everything, which I couldn’t do before; walk up steps and do everything every normal person can do.
On January 14, I gave my garment to Mrs. Wise. Our Blessed Lord had made me whole. I believe Our Lord cured me through the intercession of St. Therese. For the rest of my life I shall spread devotion to her and the Sacred Heart. I shall be eternally grateful to Mrs. Wise for all she has done for me. I know the Sacred Heart has put her here to help those who need physical and spiritual help. May God bless her every minute of the day.
Signed: Rita Francis
I, Mae Francis, mother of Rita, do hereby testify that the above statements are all true and correct. Rita was born April 20, 1923: was 19 when cured: and entered the cloister of Franciscan Nuns of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland, Aug. 15, 1944: and professed Jan. 2nd, 1947 at Sancta Clara, Canton, Ohio.
Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration – Mother Angelica’s Biography