PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – (By: Derek Staahl)
Doctors told a Valley mother she would never see again. But Dafne Gutierrez can now see her children’s faces with 20-20 vision.
Her recovery has drawn national attention, and members of the Maronite Catholic Church consider it evidence of a divine act.
After struggling with medical issues, Gutierrez went blind in her right eye in 2012. She says she lost vision completely in both eyes in November 2015.
A physician diagnosed Gutierrez with benign intracranial hypertension – a condition where pressure in the brain mounts for no obvious reason, said Dr. Anne Borik, an internist who reviewed Gutierrez’s case and medical files for the church.
“This is a condition where the pressure in the brain is so high that oftentimes it strangulates the optic nerves,” said Dr. Borik. “Unfortunately once the blindness occurs, it’s irreversible.”
That was a crushing diagnosis for the mother of four.
“For me, I was like, ‘Please God, let me see those faces again. Let me be their mother again.’ Because I feel like [my kids] were watching me, taking care of me 24-7,” Gutierrez said.
In January 2016, she took those prayers to St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church in Phoenix after learning that relics of Saint Charbel, a Lebanese monk, would be visiting the small church. She says she visited the church, confessed to Father Wissam Akiki, and prayed over the relics.
“I felt my body different,” she said.
Gutierrez returned the following day for Sunday mass, and said she experienced a similar feeling.
The next morning, she woke up in pain.
“I was just wiping my eyes, and I’m like, ‘They burn! They burn!'”
That morning, Jan. 18, Gutierrez said her eyesight started to return. Three days later, doctors confirmed her eyesight was completely restored.
“We took her to actually two other specialists to look at the eyes and see how can we explain this medically, and in fact there was really no medical explanation,” said Borik.
Maronite Bishop A. Elias Zaidan described Gutierrez’s recovery as a “healing” by St. Charbel.
“May this healing of the sight of Dafne be an inspiration for all of us to seek the spiritual sight, in order to recognize the will of God in our lives and to act accordingly,” he wrote in a newsletter.
On the 18th of every month, St. Joseph Maronite Church now has a special ceremony in honor of St. Charbel. Father Akiki says hundreds now turn up.
“We’re having people coming to St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church from Germany, Bolivia, Canada, Australia, Jerusalem,” he said. “Really what happened here changed the faith and the face of our church.”
The church is in the process of a building a shrine to St. Charbel across from its sanctuary. Akiki said the shrine, complete with a 3-ton stone statute from Lebanon, should be completed next month.Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.