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the virgin mary 49 I might call a miracle is often referred to as “spontaneous remission” or “regression to mean.” Frank McGovern, the Boston urologic surgeon who had done all he could for Arthur Boyle, told me that the cancer’s virtual disap- pearance was a “rare” but statistically possible happening. But, he added, “I also believe there are times in human life when we are way beyond what we ever expect.” Did the intense heat Boyle experienced when Vicka Ivankovic-Mijatovic held his head in her hand play a part in his healing? According to the 2006 book Hyperthermia in Cancer Treatment: A Primer, “Spontaneous regression of some can- cers has been demonstrated to be associated [with] the induction of fever and activation of immunity.” Boyle said that although he continued his tests after his return from Medjugorje, “it was faith that enabled me to get into a state of peace where my immune system rebooted itself and killed the cancer—that was all done through God.” Certain images and stories of the Virgin Mary are so powerful they help define a country. That’s the case with Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose image on the tilma, or cloak, of a poor In- dian man gave rise, in 1531, to Mexican identity. Anyone witnessing the outpouring of love and devotion that pilgrims demonstrate for their beloved Madre on the days leading up to the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe—broadcast live throughout the country on December 12—can see that the Virgin Mary is deeply embedded in Mexican hearts and souls. Her image was what Mexicans carried into their war against Spain for independence in 1810 and their internal revolution in 1910. César Chávez marched with her banner in his fight to unionize farmworkers in California in the 1960s. Our Lady of Guadalupe conferred instant bene- diction on the once despised mestizo children of Spaniards and Indians. She is the symbol of la raza, the definition of what it means to be Mex- ican, and because of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexicans have always believed they’re special. At dawn on December 11, the day before the A mother and daughter in Ville Bonheur, Haiti, bathe in the sacred Saut d’Eau falls. Ezili Dantò is said to have appeared on a palm tree here in 1849. Father Johann Roten, a Marian scholar, says Mary’s presence in the Caribbean can be traced to the merging of two cultures—Spanish Catholics and pre-Christian Africans— that began in the early 1500s.