This was Marisa's 6th grade Social Studies assignment, dated 9/8/05. She had heard this story many times from her grandparents. One of her great aunts wrote about "El Muerto" for a Garza family reunion. Marisa loved the story so much, that she used it for her assignment in the context of religious faith. She was in Catholic school at the time, so religion was part of the curriculum!
"When my great-grandmother, Malala, got pregnant with my grandfather, Papi, she also developed a kidney infection. With no medical facilities nearby, my great-grandfather, Papa Valo, had no choice but to drive her to Brownsville, Texas in hopes of finding some medical assistance there. Doctors at the hospital told Malala and Papa Valo that Malala's life was in serious danger and that the only way that they could help her was if she had an abortion. Of course, Malala and Papa Valo said no, so the hospital refused to admit her. Papa Valo tried other doctors and hospitals but they all said that Malala would die no matter what they did and refused to help. Finally, in Mercedes, Texas, a good doctor agreed to care for Malala until she died. Her infection continued and she started to bleed.
Malala heard of a phenomenon going on in a nearby town. People were saying that, in a nearby field, a bright light appeared leaving the image of the Virgin Mary on a rock. It was also said that the owners of the field were allowing people to view the image. Malala begged to be taken to the field. Papa Valo put Malala in the back of the truck along iwth my great-great grandmothers, Nana and Carlota, and my great aunts and great uncles. They all went to see the image of our Virgin Mary.
The image was placed in the ffront of a little alter covered with candles and flowers. My great Tia Dora never gorgot how Papa Valo and great-great grandmothers cried as Malala prayed for her health, for the baby to come, and for her other children, who would be orphaned if she died. In her prayers, Malala promised the Virgencita de Guadalupe to always carry a medal of her if she would intercede on her behalf to her son Jesus.
When they were on their way home, Papa Valo decided to let Malala sit in the front seat of the truck. Malala said she wanted to eat a hamburger. Papa Valo was happy because every payday he would stop at Keno's Cafe and buy Malala a hamburger. They all ate hamburgers that night. The next day, Malala was no longer bleeding and her kidney infection was gone! Malala's and Papa Valo's prayers were answered. Eventually, my Papi was born and because of what had happened during Malala's pregnancy, the family called him "El Muerto"."
South Texas Catholic Newspaper headlined an article about the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle and the number of pilgrimages made each year to honor her. It is the most visited shrine in the United States, averaging more than 1 million visitors a year.
I also LOVE this story!