Living Cross of Limpias
God is so powerful! He is involved with His children! The Lord works in mysterious ways, when He wants to make His presence known to His people. The fact that He is always working in our lives is affirmed by all the Miracles He gives us. He’s also not beyond giving us a Miracle of the Cross to get our attention, to let us know beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was truly He who died on the Cross for us, and that it is He who continues to suffer for the sins of the world.
Following the unconditional love the Lord shows us through Miracles of the Cross is such a special and awesome gift. It bears witness to how strongly the Lord works with our welfare in Mind, in everything He does. Because of our conditional love, it’s hard for us to believe that God unreservedly loves us. We know we don’t deserve it. But as He proves to us in these Miracles, He loves us because He loves us. One time Penny asked the Lord how He could love her when she was ever going forward three steps and falling back two. The thought she was given was, “I love you because I love you. Now just accept that and let’s get on with it.”
The Lord proved His love for us, His children, through a Miracle of the Cross in a little town in northern Spain at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. It happened during Lent, the end of March, 1919. Two Capuchin priests were giving a Lenten retreat at their local church in the little village of Limpias, located in the area of Coruña. The Lord was blessing the congregation abundantly. You could feel the Power of His Presence in the church. You could tell that all was going well. The homilies were well accepted; the people were responding. The lines were long for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
There was a large Crucifix on the back wall of the Church. Many in the parish had a great devotion to Our Crucified Lord and paid homage to Him on this Crucifix. But on this particular evening, they were coming to the close of the mission, and so the attention was not on the Crucifix, but on the priests, who were giving their last teachings.
Suddenly a child in the front of the church cried out, “Father, the Holy Christ is moving. The Holy Christ is looking at me.” Everyone looked at the child incredulously, and then looked up at the Crucifix. Then, from another part of the Church, another child cried out; and then another. Pretty soon, all the adults in the Church were clamoring, some in awe, others in fear. Some were able to see the living Christ on the Cross. The murmuring spread throughout the church: What could it be? Is it the end of the world? Is Jesus here to punish us for our sins? The reported expressions on Jesus’ face varied. Some said He looked at them with such love. Others said He was terribly angry with them. But they were all of one mind: Instead of a dead Jesus on the Cross, Jesus was alive, and He was sorrowfully suffering the Passion.
One of the priests, in an effort to try to determine if what was happening was truly coming to pass, ran over to the Crucifix and placed his hand on it. He pulled it away abruptly. The body was warm! He could feel perspiration on the body, the same as if he had touched the body of a living, suffering person! He shared, it also felt like he was touching flesh, rather than wood. He, too, began to perspire! He didn’t know what to make of the entire situation, nor quite sure how to handle it.
Actually, the people came to the rescue. They began to sing hymns to the Lord, such as “Hymn of the Pilgrimage,” “Pardon, O my God,” and other local hymns well-known by the people in the church. Soon the sounds of hymns rang throughout the church. During all this time, lights were out in the Church; the only light was the daylight streaming in from the stained-glass windows. O my Lord, they exclaimed! There seemed to be an aura coming from the image of Our Lord Jesus. Each person who witnessed the Miracle of the Cross had a different version of what happened, as truly each person had their own individual encounter with Our Lord Jesus, come to life on the Cross.
Needless to say, word spread like wildfire about the miraculous occurrence with the Cross of Limpias. Pilgrimages came from all over the country, and then even outside of Spain - from southern France, to view and venerate the Miracle of the Cross. They all shared their individual experiences. To some, the statue on the Cross remained dead and motionless the entire time they were at the Church. To others, Our Lord came to life for short periods of time. When the Image went from death to life, the Image appeared tortured, wracked with pain. The eyes, which depicted a suffering Christ, but a wooden representation, took on a completely different expression when the statue on the Cross seemed to come to life. The excruciating pain was immediately obvious. Our Lord’s eyes projected His suffering. His Head turned from left to right, every move seemed like an eternity of pain.
His Hands and Feet appeared to move painfully in an effort to alleviate the torturous agony inflicted by the nails, which brutally pierced them. But with all of that, there were those who testified He had smiled at them. Can you picture Our Lord Jesus in so much agonizing pain, yet able and willing to smile at His beloved children, as if to reassure them?
We'd like to share some individual experiences which we believe shows the awesome power of God through this Miracle.
In the early days, when pilgrimages first came to the Shrine, a chauffeur brought his employer and wife to the church in Limpias, Spain. He chose not go in with his employer, as was his custom to wait outside. He never attended anything his employer did, but in this instance, he had a valid reason. It had to do with Church, and he wanted nothing to do with God or Church or anything of the kind. It was very obvious where his loyalties were, and if there was any doubt in your mind, he would have no problem telling you right off the bat.
So, on this day, he stayed outside the church, making fun, under his breath, of all the believers inside. He as much as called them simpletons, being taken in by the Catholic Church. But when his employer came out and gently ordered him to go in and view the Miracle of the Cross, he reluctantly obeyed. But to be sure that no one would think for a minute that he was taking any of this seriously, he put an insolent smirk on his face. He was not about to be manipulated, boss or no boss.
He was led inside the door of the church, right up to the Image of the Holy Crucified Christ. After a beat, his face turned gray. All the blood seemed to drain out of it. He collapsed to the floor. He was as limp as a rag. He screamed out one word, “Pardon.” He lay there for some time, sobbing. He could not get up! He had to be carried out of the church and placed in the back of the car. His employer had to drive him and his wife home! The people in the church were completely aghast at the behavior of the driver, as was his employer. Quite a bit later, after he regained his composure, he said the Lord looked at him with such a piercing glance it made his blood curl. He never quite explained it any more than that, but tradition has it that he changed his ways, and went back to the Church and the Sacraments. There’s no mention whether he ever returned to the Shrine of the Miracle of the Cross of Limpias.
We may have mentioned that the Miracle of the Cross did not happen all the time, and not everyone saw the Miracle. In addition, when more than one person witnessed the Miracle at the same time, each one did not necessarily see the same thing. Although many people experienced the Lord’s blessings in this way, it was by and large, an individual encounter. That’s why the occurrence we’re going to share with you now is so unusual.
On one of the pilgrimages to the Shrine, in a group of over two hundred and fifty people, over two thirds witnessed the exact same thing! They saw Our Lord Jesus, alive on the Cross, convulsing in the same way. He was experiencing the excruciating pain of the Passion right in front of them. In addition to His Head and Body writhing back and forth on the Cross, His horrifying facial expressions told the story of what was happening to Him physically.
One of the eyewitness, giving testimony, shared about his wife, who had not believed in the Miraculous Living Cross of Limpias when the group first arrived from Santiago de Compostela. However, knowing that she was outnumbered among so many believers, she said nothing. She prayed, if this was truly a Miracle, that the Lord would give her the gift of seeing it. Also, she prayed to Our Lord Jesus, if this Miracle were true, would He grant her special intentions for her husband and children, who were with her at the Church. At one point, she thought she saw something, but then chalked it up to her imagination. However, she asked her children if they saw anything, and what they shared corresponded exactly to what she thought she had seen - that Our Lord Jesus was alive and moving. She kept it to herself, until later that day when everyone was praying the Rosary at the foot of the Miraculous Cross, and the woman’s daughter cried out that Jesus had raised His Head, opened and closed His lips, and then bowed His head again.
The mother, not wanting to appear ridiculous, and feeling uneasy about the child’s testimony, told her it was her imagination. Then the Lord spoke to the mother through another pilgrim, praying next to them. She scolded the mother for not believing the Lord when He gave her proof positive of His Presence in this church, and in her life. The pilgrim added that she had not seen anything, but believed, because she knew that Jesus loved her and all the people in the church.
The disbelieving mother ceased her disbelief, opened her heart to Jesus in this Miracle, and towards the end of the day, she swore that He looked at her and smiled. A P.S. to this story is that all the petitions she had made to the Lord were fulfilled.