Just as Usain Bolt did in the previous Olympic Games, Hidilyn, from the Philipines, proudly shows her miraculous medal next to the gold medal she won in weightlifting.
In 1830, in the chapel of Rue du Bac in Paris, the Virgin Mary appeared to the daughter of charity Catherine Labouré and asked her to make some medals. She asked that the medal should show an M, a cross on a bar, a heart of Jesus surrounded by thorns and one of Mary pierced by a sword. Around it, twelve stars, as in the scene of the woman clothed with the sun in the Apocalypse.
Our Lady promised St. Catherine: “All those who wear it will receive great graces. The graces will be more abundant for those who wear it with confidence”. Thus was born the devotion to the Miraculous Medal, which is widespread among the members of the Vincentian Family.
At the Tokyo Games in 2021, Hidilyn Diaz, a weightlifter, wearing this little medal, has received graces that have filled everyone in her country, the Philippines, with joy. For the first time in the 97 years that the Philippines has been attending the Olympic Games, the country wins a gold medal. And Hidilyn, in front of the press and on the podium, shows two medals: the gold medal and the Miraculous medal.
Training with water jugs
Hidilyn has suffered strict confinement, like many others in the Philippines. Although she is originally from Zamboanga, a city where many people still speak “Zamboangueño Spanish,” during the confinement she was isolated in Malaysia without access to any training materials, and trained with sticks and water jugs that she used as weights, and relied on the prayers of many.
In Tokyo she managed to lift 224 kg (97 kg in snatch and 127 kg in two-stroke): a world record in the 55 kg weightlifting category.
At the age of 30, while the anthem of her country was playing, on the podium she raised the gold medal, but also the Miraculous Medal of Our Lady. As she listened with emotion to the national anthem of the Philippines, she raised his finger pointing to heaven, thanking God for this achievement.
He told Rappler magazine the next day, “I didn’t expect to lift that wieght yesterday. I guess it was thanks to God and all the people who prayed for me yesterday. I’m grateful to everyone who prayed and did the novena.”
On Spin.Ph she pointed that a friend gave her the medal and prayed a novena for her. “She prayed a novena for nine days, then I also did a novena. It was a network of prayers and faith in Mother Mary and Jesus Christ,” she explained.
After so many difficulties with the pandemic and training, Hidilyn Diaz draws a conclusion, “We are in a pandemic, the Olympics seemed impossible. But there we were. So we could do it. Don’t give up. Whatever the challenges and trials, let’s pray to God, He will guide us,” the champion urged on ABS-CBN News.
Interviewed on Cignal TV, she added: “I was surprised I did that. God is amazing.”
Bishops thank her for her Marian devotion
The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and Archbishop of Davao, Romulo Geolina Valles, said in a statement that the Church in the country congratulates with “great pride and joy” the young woman for her “historic performance.” Valles noted that her victory was captured in photos where she wears the “Miraculous Medal of Our Lady on her chest” and stressed that they admire “her devotion to the Blessed Mother as she carried in her victory her great faith in God.”
“Hidilyn is a true powerlifter who draws her strength from her love for the country and her deep Catholic faith,” he added.
In 2018, the young woman was invited to give her testimony during the 5th Philippine New Evangelization Conference, where she explained how her faith helped her overcome various challenges she went through during her life as an athlete.
“I felt an emptiness, I didn’t understand what my life purpose was and why I practiced weightlifting. That time was also my journey with God where I got to know Him personally. I learned how to pray because I didn’t know how to pray before. Then I entrusted everything to God because I understood that there is a purpose why I am here, why I am in weightlifting,” she said that year.
(Originally published in the Marian news portal CariFilii.es)