'Miracle' woman honours saint-to-be John Paul II
Costa Rican Floribeth Mora (L), who was cured of a serious brain condition by a miracle attributed to late Pope John Paul II, attends a mass at the San Stanislao church in Rome on April 24, 2014 - by Alberto Pizzoli
The Vatican has declared 50-year-old Floribeth Mora's apparently unexplained recovery from a brain aneurysm a miracle attributed to the Polish pontiff -- one of two required for the status of saint of the Catholic Church.
"I would travel, go anywhere, no matter how tired I am, to bring this message of hope and faith to the entire world," Mora told AFP in an interview after arriving in Italy for the ceremony in St Peter's Square.
The event -- the first canonisation of two popes at the same time -- will honour two influential 20th-century religious leaders whose pontificates spanned the Cuban missile crisis and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
But Mora's image of John Paul II is not of the globe-trotting leader who helped bring down Communism but of a personal saviour who helped in a time of need.
She said the Polish pope spoke to her and healed her when she prayed to a picture of him on the front cover of a magazine from her hospital bed in 2011.
- 'Examined by many doctors' -
In Rome, Mora has received a hero's welcome.
"I can't wait to meet the pope and I'm proud that Francis is one of us," she said, referring to the Argentine pope -- the first from Latin America.
She said she had a huge number of letters from across Latin America that she had been asked to give Francis.
She has also been assailed with interview requests since arriving in Italy and said she feels she is on a "mission" from God to bear witness to the miracle.
"I feel really well. I could jump right now!" she said.
The process of "verifying" a miracle is complex and can take many years but has been accelerated in the case of John Paul II, who was a hugely popular but also controversial figure who alienated reformists.
Mora said she had been subjected to multiple medical exams to check that there could be no scientific explanation for her healing and was hospitalised briefly at the Vatican-run Policlinico Gemelli in Rome.
"The process was very long and difficult," she said.
"I was examined by many doctors and neurologists who confirmed that my brain had no damage and that my cerebral arteries were free of the clot and that no consequences could be found in my body," Mora said.
The "miracle" woman held an emotional meeting Thursday with some of the thousands of Polish pilgrims who have begun arriving for the canonisation of John Paul II and John XXIII.
Father Piotr Studnicki, who attended the special mass, said it was "a moment of great emotion for the community".
"It's very important for us to meet her because there is something of John Paul II in her," he said.
The small church in Rome's historic centre was overflowing with pilgrims hoping for a glimpse of Mora, who sat quietly in prayer, dressed entirely in black, with a lace veil covering her head.
She said she did not like being put in the spotlight and asked that people "look at the miracle, not the woman".
"I am here because God decided to write a story with my life."