Unexpected Prayer Partners
By Marc Massery (Jan 10, 2018)
Just 12 days after he died, Pope St. John Paul II was seen visiting an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a hospital on a rainforested island off the coast of Alaska.

On the second Saturday of April, 2005, Carole Denkinger of Sitka, Alaska, began feeling ill. But she could not let a mere respiratory infection slow her down. She owned and operated her own bustling bed-and-breakfast in a tourist town, so she had to keep working.

By Thursday, however, she could not take in enough air to cough. She spoke on the phone with her son, Todd, an emergency room doctor in Seattle, Washington. "He said that I sounded like the worst respiratory patient he had ever had in the ER," Carole said.

Carole's husband drove her straight to the hospital. The doctor examined her lungs with his stethoscope. "I can still see him sit back with this grave-looking face," she said. The doctor said that he could not hear any air moving in her lungs. He was concerned they were shutting down. An x-ray revealed pneumonia. On top of that, she had a history of asthma. Carole was immediately admitted to the ICU.

Nurses wheeled her away, put an oxygen tube in her nose, inserted an IV in her arm, pumped her with antibiotics, and left her to rest.

Alone in her hospital room, the reality of her situation began to set in. Carole thought about her four children, of course, but she was especially concerned about her husband, who had just been diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma in February. "I pleaded with Jesus for mercy, to not take me now. I prayed 'Jesus, I trust in You' over and over," Carole said.

She started to cry. Then she remembered her dearest friend, Barbara Rocheleau. Just months earlier, they had made a pact: If either one of them faced death, they would pray the Chaplet together.

In between breaths, Carole told Barbara over the phone what was happening and asked her to come pray. "She could barely speak," Barbara said.

As soon as Barbara arrived, she placed her folding Divine Mercy image on a ledge and blessed Carole with Holy Water from a spray bottle. The lights were hurting Carole's eyes, so Barbara shut the shades, closed the door, and hit the light switch. Carole had Barbara sit back several feet from her so Barbara wouldn't catch her illness.

In this dimly lit room, Barbara blessed herself and invited the recently deceased Pope to pray with them from Heaven. She started to say the Chaplet aloud while Carole, too weak to speak, mouthed the words and followed along on her rosary beads.

They had prayed about a decade of the Chaplet when Barbara saw something suddenly appear on the wall opposite her. "In full 3-dimensions on the wall, I saw Carole's deceased mother, standing in full daylight in a field," Barbara said. "She looked as though she had been gardening." Barbara remembers that Carole's mother was wearing dungarees, a red and white checkered shirt, and had a kerchief tied around her head. She, too, was holding a rosary, and was praying with them.

Then Barbara saw even more. "There were perfectly lined up rows of [Carole's] ancestors who were also praying. I couldn't hear them, but I could see them," Barbara said. Mesmerized, she continued to pray.

Then suddenly the scene changed. Carole's mother and ancestors faded. That same wall lit up with an intense, heavenly light.

In the midst of that light stood Pope John Paul II, strong and vibrant, in his white cassock, cape, and zucchetto. He strode into the room, crossed in front of Barbara, and stood right before Carole. He laid his hands on Carole's head and prayed in silence.

Barbara said, "I didn't know what to do. I didn't expect him to show up."

Barbara began to cry. She was so moved that her throat closed up and she could not speak. "Time stood still — I realized I needed to just watch," she said.

All this time, Carole had her eyes closed. "I thought Barbara was crying because of her concern for me, so I began to pray for her, and waited ... for her to continue to pray the Chaplet," Carole said.

Barbara watched as the Pope finished praying over Carole, who was oblivious to the miracle happening right before her. The Pope proceeded to kneel at the foot of the bed, head bowed in prayer. Finally, he stood up, turned his head toward Barbara, smiled, and walked back into the light.

"He just had this pure purpose about him," Barbara said.

After he left, Barbara finished praying the Chaplet aloud. As soon as the last prayer was finished, she rushed over to Carole's bedside and said, "Carole, you are so loved!"

"I am?" Carole responded.

Barbara told her everything she had just witnessed.

That same morning, Carole began feeling much better. By the afternoon, she was calling her friends and relatives, telling them about Barbara's vision and her rapid recovery.

Two days later, doctors released Carole from the hospital. Air was now rushing through her lungs.

"I have witnessed the power [of the] Chaplet of Divine Mercy," Carole said. "I am eternally grateful for having received the mercy of Jesus." 

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