RIMINI, Italy (AP) — Mother Teresa is known for having loved beggars, prostitutes and street children without discrimination or distinction. Marcilio Andrino is convinced she also loved him — and interceded with God to cure him of a viral brain infection when doctors had given him little chance of survival.
Andrino's cure, declared a miracle by Pope Francis earlier this year, was the final step needed to declare Mother Teresa a saint. She will be canonized by Francis on Sunday in St. Peter's Square in the highlight of his Holy Year of Mercy, a yearlong emphasis on the merciful side of the Catholic Church.
The Brazilian mechanical engineer and his wife, Fernanda, said Mother Teresa's message, conveyed through a lifetime of working for the "poorest of the poor" in India's slums, is that God's mercy is for everyone.
"Fernanda and I are just normal people within God's people," Andrino said on the sidelines of a Catholic meeting before the canonization. "God didn't choose who to send down his mercy to, just like Mother Theresa, who cared for everybody without any distinction."
According to the official account, Andrino was in a coma and dying on Dec. 9, 2008 from a viral brain infection that had resulted in multiple abscesses and an accumulation of fluid around the brain.
Surgery was scheduled for 6:10 p.m. but the anesthesiologist couldn't immediately intubate him. When the surgeon arrived a half-hour later, he "found the patient inexplicably awake and without pain," according to the postulator of Mother Teresa's cause, the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk.
"The patient asked the doctor, 'What I am doing here?' The next morning ... the patient was fully awake and without any headache; he was asymptomatic with normal cognition," Kolodiejchuk said in a statement earlier this year.
Kolodiejchuk said Fernanda had been praying for Mother Teresa's intercession specifically during the half-hour when her husband was supposed to be in surgery.
"Marcilio was fine. He was sitting up. He was talking in intensive care (at the hospital) and I realized that he was cured, that Mother Teresa had interceded on our behalf and cured Marcilio," Fernanda said. "This was confirmed by the exams which proved the reduction of the abscesses and the disappearance of the hydrocephaly, making us sure that operations and drainage were no longer needed."
Andrino has since resumed working and is in good health — and despite tests showing he had become sterile, has had two children since.
"Every time I look at Marcilio and our children, I feel very grateful," Fernanda said. "I am very grateful to God and Mother Teresa."