I would like to share a story that happened while I was working in a hospital in Naples. I will start my story with how it happened that I became a nurse, went to Italy and at a miracle in the hospital ward.
I entered the Congregation when I was 20 years old. I started my candidacy. I remember very well one of the first words that Mother superior (Mother General representative in Poland) said to me then: “The candidate will be a nurse”. These words were very memorable to me, but with time I had to forget about them…. but Mother superior did not forget them.
I started my novitiate. We had various lectures during this time. There was also one sister from Katowice (I don’t remember her name) who taught us how to give injections and how to perform basic nursing activities for the sick.
When I was in the second year of the novitiate, we were informed that the sisters were to be transported to Otorów near Szamotuły, to a labor camp. I remember when Mother superior made the decision to strip the novices from their sisters in order to protect them from deportation. They were to take their personal belongings to their family homes. I was also supposed to pack my things, take them to my family home and come in secular clothes to the sisters’ community in Nysa. And so I did.
The sisters in Nysa welcomed me kindly. Soon they put me in the habit that was left by my deceased sister. Although it did not fit me and was too big for me, I was happy to be able to wear it again. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it for long, because soon at the gate, someone dropped us a letter informing us that they wanted to take us to a labor camp, so they ordered me to undress again. It must have happened about three times when they dressed and undressed me like this, but I knew it was the only way to save me from deportation.
Herezwit’s sister was in Nysa, she ran a tailoring course for girls. Since I was already studying sewing as a teenager in business school, I started helping her learn sewing. After a year in Nysa, Mother superior “remembered” what she told me when I was a candidate and that is why she moved me to Jaszkotle. There, in addition to working in the house, I visted the sick in the villages and gave them injections. I went from Jaszkotle to a nursing school in Warsaw for two years. After graduating from school, she returned to Jaszkotle. Then I was transferred to Ścinawa, where the sisters worked in the Health Center: in the delivery room, in the vaccination center and in the surgery room. There I was supposed to be a superior. I remember how I felt sorry to leave Jaszkotle and when we got off the train with my sister Helena, who was taking me away, she noticed that I was sad because I was going into the unknown, I did not know who I was going to work with. She started showing me the advantages of this place, saying: “look how nice it is here, the stream flows here, the birds sing so nicely” and then I replied: “but it’s so strange”. But God was with me. I started working at a vaccination point and traveled to the villages to visit sick people. There were 15 villages to handle. I worked there for 10 years.
- To this day, I can hear the ringing of the telephone and a voice in the receiver that says: “Sister Vincentia, you will go to Italy. Get ready and quickly because the director of the hospital wants one sister to come to work in the hospital ward ”. I must admit that I felt sorry to leave because I got close to my sisters and people. After all, I didn’t know Italian and I was going again into the unknown.
As I have already mentioned, I came to Naples without knowing the Italian language. I started working in a hospital, people welcomed me very kindly. They supported me not to worry about the language, but to learn patiently, at least two words a day and in some time I will be speaking perfectly. And so I did. Despite the unfamiliarity with the language, I started working in the ward right away and only thanks to God’s care and help I did not make any mistakes.
People from the hospital liked to work with us – sisters, they made us feel it more than once. They trusted us. They confided in us with their various family and marriage problems, and we gave all these matters to God in prayer.
During my work in the hospital, a miracle happened that I would like to tell you about.
One day, in the ward where I was working, there was a woman who gave birth to a baby boy. After giving birth, her health began to deteriorate. She had the so-called eclampsia (this is eclampsia that occurs as seizures or loss of consciousness in pregnant or postnatal women). This condition lasted for two weeks, she felt into a coma, she did not react to anything. Doctors did not give her a chance to survive. I felt very sorry for this woman, she had just given birth to her first child and was going to die soon. Every day she was visited by a midwife who performed nursing activities for her. One day I met her in this lady’s room. I asked “will this patient really die?” She replied that “there is no salvation for her anymore.” Then I told the midwife that I had the oil from the wonderful place of Saint Anastasia with the painting of Our Lady dell’Arco, and I wanted to anoint the patient with it. (Let me just mention that the Dominican fathers who look after this sanctuary on the day of the indulgence always bless the oils that people can take away.)
I also proposed a joint prayer for: either God give her a peaceful death or restore her health. She responded to it willingly. I remember how I knelt on one side of the bed and the midwife on the other. And just as it is done in the anointing of the sick, I made this sick woman a cross with this oil on the forehead, on the hands and on the feet.
Our prayer did not last long. After a while the lady opened her eyes and sat down on the bed. We cried out. After a few days, she returned home with the baby.
Our Lady saved her!
It was one of the most moving events that I experienced in my 21 years working in a Neapolitan hospital. I remember that time very well and with great sentiment.
S.M. Vincencia Wróbel
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The beginning of the cult of the Virgin Mary with the title of Madonna dell’Arco is associated with the episode that took place on April 6, 1450, on Easter Monday, in Saint Anastasia (today in the Province of Naples).
At the edge of the field, there was a chapel with a painting (hence the names Madonna dell’Arco and Pomigliano d’Arco) under the arch of the aqueduct, with a painting of our Lady with Baby Jesus.
During a village festival, young men played “palla a maglio” (ball with a hammer) on the field. The game consisted in hitting a wooden ball with a hammer, the one who made the ball fly further won. One of them missed and lost the game, so the ball hit the linden tree, whose branches partially obscured the wall covered with the image of our Lady with the Baby Jesus. The loser in a fit of anger, picked up the ball and, cursing, threw it violently at the sacred image, hitting it on the left cheek, which began to bleed as if it were a living body. The news of the miracle quickly spread across the country, reaching Count Sarno, a local nobleman, the Great Executioner of the Kingdom of Naples. He released the young man, but after observing the miracle and carrying out a shortened trial, he sentenced him to be hanged, on the same July that sheltered the image of the Mother of God. After twenty-four hours, the tree was withered
These miraculous events sparked the cult of the Madonna dell’Arco, which immediately spread throughout southern Italy. Crowds of believers poured into the miracle site, so it was necessary to build a small church out of the offers received to protect the holy image from the elements.