Vera is a Palestinian Christian (she was mayor of Bethlehem). When her husband Johnny was taken prisoner for political reasons, she made a pact with the Virgin Mary: "On his release, I promise to go to Lourdes on pilgrimage with him to thank you for having protected him." In the meantime, Vera puts money aside day after day. Three years later, Johnny regains freedom. But Vera does not yet have enough money to go to Lourdes: they will have to wait two more years before fulfilling the promise. They come to the Grotto with a baby in their arms: Lourdina, their child, born a year earlier. They have it baptized in the parish church ... of Lourdes, so as to entrust her to the Virgin of Lourdes. A poignant testimony.
The testimony of Vera Baboun
"When my husband was sentenced as a political prisoner in Israel I went to the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem and made a vow that if my husband would not receive a long sentence, and that mercy and grace would be present in his sentencing, I would bring my family and my husband to Lourdes when he was released, to thank our Virgin Mary. I thank God and I thank Her that he was only sentenced for three years. Within my vow it was clear that I could not make this pilgrimage unless I saved all the money from my own work. Five years later Johnny was released in 1993. Lourdina was born in 1994, and my vow was realised in 1995 when I visited Lourdes to say thank you to my Virgin Mary, to say thank you for the blessing that she gave, but above all I had my daughter baptized in Lourdes and gave her the name Lourdina. This is my story with heaven, with the Grotto, with mercy, with the grace of the Virgin Mary. Grace is joy, grace is peace, and grace is something you will find without understanding how you got it. At many moments of our lives, we suffer but we know that grace relates to the original story of our Lord and His birth. Our Lord was born in Bethlehem, crucified in Jerusalem, but resurrected in Jerusalem as well. This moment of the resurrection from pain is grace; the resurrection from suffering is our grace today. And when we pray in Lourdes, we pray for a resurrection, an ending, a new start from pain, suffering or despondency. We pray to find a place inside of us different than the pain. Very often, when we suffer we think of the suffering. I learnt that the suffering is the only Way to live the other face of the coin, to live life with grace, with positivity. Try to imagine that you accept suffering because this suffering will bring you a new life, a different life. But in the process we need to pray for the strength to carry our cross. This is what Lourdes helps us to do by praying to the Virgin Mary, to help us to go through that suffering with mercy, asking for her grace to end it, to help, to intercede. Grace is joy, grace is a beautiful life, and grace is simply trust in God and in the Virgin Mary."