Our Lady of Hollywood | Feature | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Our Lady of Hollywood

Page 6 of 7

"And I never doubted it ever since."

Jim Coffin, who has been attending the apparitions since Lopez first opened her home in 1994, says he has witnessed many miracles there. He says he has seen images of Mary weeping. And he has been overcome by the rosy scent of holy water drawn from the Lopez fountain. For him, it is all an answer to a prayer. "I used to fuss at Mary, asking her why she always appeared in Europe or some other faraway place," he says. "And now we have her here."

Doctors had given Rita Sanchez three months to live when she first visited Rosa Lopez's home four years ago, she says. The 62-year-old says she had multiple tumors throughout her body. Doctors now say the malignant tumors have disappeared. Once a week, Sanchez and her daughter, Beatrice Gonzalez, visit the Lopez home. Rosa squirts holy water in their mouths, makes the sign of the cross, and touches her palm to their foreheads. "We come here because we believe it is a miracle," Gonzalez says.

Gloria Martinez hoped for a cure too as she sat in the apparition room that July 13. Around 11 a.m., Lopez noticed her tears and came over to her to ask what was wrong. Martinez told Lopez about the horrible pain she suffered. "She told me not to worry," Martinez says.

Lopez helped Martinez hobble to the fountain in the front yard. She scooped up water and poured it onto Martinez's leg. She made the sign of the cross and told Martinez that she should sit down. Then Lopez placed her hand on Martinez's forehead. "I felt like I was going to faint," Martinez says. "I just sat." When she came out of the trance, Martinez says, the pain in her leg had disappeared.

After Martinez returned to her seat in the apparition room, she repeatedly bent and unbent her leg. "Oh my God, I don't believe this," she said over and over again. "This is a miracle. I swear to God."

Asked if she thought the pain would return, Martinez wouldn't consider such an outcome. "I don't think it will come back," she said. "I have the feeling that it will not. I had a lot of faith when I came here today."

Martinez left the Lopez house before the main event of the day took place. "I didn't know there was anything more than that," she says. "And I had already been there so long."

At 11:45 a.m., Ruffolo's husband, Frank, asked the crowd of more than 300 people massed inside and outside the Lopez home to pray and to say the rosary together. The group began with the visit of the holy spirit to Mary, the birth and life and death of Jesus, continued on through to the death of Mary and her coronation as the queen of heaven, in both Spanish and English. It lasted for about 90 minutes.

Lopez sat in a white plastic lawn chair beside the fountain with a lace scarf covering her head, holding a pink rosary. When the saying of prayers was completed, she slipped off the chair and knelt on a cushion on the ground with her hands folded in prayer. She remained silent for several minutes, her face contorted. Then she uttered a guttural whisper. A volunteer held a microphone to her mouth so that the audience could hear her words. Christine Ruffolo held a tape player so that the message could be transcribed, printed, and distributed to the public. Lopez talked in a hard-to-follow mixture of Spanish and English, in a voice that sometimes dropped almost to a whisper, for about 30 minutes.

Mary had asked that the Mass be said in Latin, rather than in the common tongue that the church allowed post Vatican II in the 1960s, Lopez explained. She implored husbands and wives to stay married. And she spoke out adamantly against abortion. Later, Lopez said that Mary arrived holding baby Jesus in her arms to show the importance of motherhood. "The apparition of your mother in different parts of the world is very important," Mary said through Lopez, "because the end of time is coming soon for humanity and the world. But don't be afraid; the world will not end. What will end is apostasy; the generation that lives in promiscuity and in disobedience to the church will end."

Martinez's divine cure didn't last through the night. Perhaps it was just an adrenaline rush of the moment, mind over matter for a few pain-free hours. At 11 p.m. that Sunday, the pain returned. She was in more agony than ever before, if that was possible. Frightened, Martinez rushed to the emergency room. If she had waited, a doctor said, she might have died. This time, the ultrasound showed a huge clot in her leg. If it had traveled to her lungs, it would have killed her.

KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Susan Eastman
Contact: Susan Eastman

Latest Stories