I saw thousands of little flames of light going up to the Lord. They were so beautiful; they were like little white flames, stupendous and full of love. They were the prayers of many, so many people who were praying for me (81).
Gloria Polo, born in Venadillo, Columbia was struck by lightning around 4:30 P.M. on Friday, May 5th, 1995 outside the National University of Bogota. According to Gloria, the lightning entered her shoulder and exited her right foot, burning her whole body: inside and out. Next to her, her 23-year-old nephew was killed by the lighting immediately.
While her thoroughly charred body was carried to and being held in San Pedro Claver hospital, her soul began to descend into hell.1
Her descent into hell and the intercessory prayer, which will ultimately save her, make for a remarkable story which we will henceforth attempt to give a brief synopsis, using her own words.2
I am a dentist (pg. 7).
…I heard the voice of my husband. He lamented and cried with profound emotion: “Gloria! Gloria! Please do not leave me! Look at your children, your children need you! Gloria, come back! (10).
But first I must tell you something, brothers and sister: I was a “diet (cafeteria) Catholic” my whole life because my relationship with God was taken care of in a 25-minute Sunday Mass, and nothing else…(12)
I went every Sunday to Mass, even though I considered myself an atheist and did not pay attention to what the priest was saying. But I never missed Mass. If I missed five times in my whole life, it was a lot! (17)
I paid the expenses at the supermarket for a lot of people who did not have money and were in need but I did not do it for love: I had money, and it did not cost me anything (64).
Moreover, I loved having many people saying I was good and generous, even a saint: because they were people who knew me well (64).
I dedicated four hours every day to aerobics; I slaved to get a beautiful body. I did different types of massage, diets and injections. Basically, everything you can imagine. This was my life: a routine of slavery in order to have a beautiful body (11).
I stole from my children the grace to have a tender and sweet mother at home, who might have loved them and accompanied them! Instead, I was away all the time, the children were alone, with the “mom” television and the “dad” computer and video games…And I believed myself to be a perfect mom (60).
In my examination that Jesus gave me, I saw how all my evils came from greed. I was blinded by this desire to make a lot of money, because I thought I would be happy if I had money (64).
I wanted God to love me and give me everything, but on my terms. I wanted no one to come and tell me that I was sinning, because I did not appreciate that. The devil put my conscience to sleep (54).
My father…was a womanizer. He used to say happily, boasting to my mother and to everyone that he was very “macho” because he had many women and he could conquer all of them (33).
When I was economically well off, I began to say to my mother: “Mom you should leave Dad, because it is impossible to put up with such a man! Have a little dignity, Mom!” (35)
But my mother told me: “No, my daughter, I cannot; I suffer, it is true, but I sacrifice myself for you, my children…I can beseech the Lord for Him, so that he finds salvation: I unite the pain and suffering that he causes me to the pains that Jesus suffered on the Cross. Everyday, I go to the church and in front of the tabernacle, I say: “Lord, this suffering is nothing; I unite it to your Cross so that my husband and children might be saved. I entrusted your father to Jesus (35).
Eight years before dying, my father converted! He repented and asked pardon from God. He was in the lowest part of purgatory, in great suffering, so that he could make reparation for his sins (36).
He was crying from where he was in Purgatory, and he said: “I saved myself, thanks to the thirty-eight years of prayer done by this holy woman that God gave me as a spouse” (36).
When I began to go to these evangelical churches, I had a neighbor, a very poor old lady who lived in front of my house. I helped her by giving her the money she needed to pay for electricity and the water bill, and at times I did some grocery shopping for her. As you can imagine, this old lady was very attached to me (55).
But when we do not have God inside of us, even the good works (we do) become rotten, like our sins (55).
This old lady was Catholic, but I used the friendship she felt for me and succeeded in convincing her to go against her faith, beginning in this way to destroy it. In a few words: due to my counsels and ideas that I put into her head, she died without receiving the sacraments (55).
Let us return to the operating room: when I saw myself in that situation, what a terrible fright I experienced! I finally saw that the demons existed and that they were coming to get me! They came to present the bill to me, one could say, since I had accepted their offers of sin! (13).
I was trying to get back into my body, but my flesh did not receive me, and the fright was terrible! (13)
I headed toward several tunnels that went down toward the bottom. At the beginning, there was still a little light, like a beehive in which there were many people: young and old, men and women who were crying and grinding their teeth with frightening screams. And I, ever more terrified, continued to descend…(14)
It was horrible, but what chilled me the most was that here you could not feel the love of God even a little; there was not even a little drop of hope..I cried out like a mad woman, terrorized, feeling the horror of not being able to stop that descent…(14)
…the light that still was left in my spirit annoyed the demons; all the horrifying unclean beings that dwell there immediately attacked me. They were like larva, like bloodsuckers trying to block off the light. Imagine the horror in seeing myself covered by such creatures…I was crying out like a mad woman! Those things were burning! Brothers and sisters, they are living darkness; it is a hate that burns that devours us, that leaves us naked. There are no words to describe the horror! (15)
“But what am I doing here? Pull me out of here! Take me out of here!” I continued shouting, terrified, with those horrible things hanging on to me! (17)
“I am a Catholic! I am a Catholic, please, get me out of here!” (17)
While all this was happening, my body was in a deep coma: I was incubated, connected to the machines and in agony. Air was not entering into my lungs, my kidneys were not working (17).
When I cried out again that I was a Catholic, brothers, I heard a sweet voice. It was so beautiful that it filled everything with peace and love, and it made my soul jump. Those horrible creatures that were clinging to me, upon hearing it, immediately prostrated themselves in adoration and asked permission to leave, because they could not stand the sweetness of the voice (20).
The beautiful voice said to me: “Very well, if you are a Catholic, tell me what the Commandments of the Law of God are!” (21)
And I began to say: “The first Commandment is: to love God above everything else and my neighbor as myself” (21).
“Very well,” He said to me. “And you did this? Did you love?” (21)
Totally confused, I replied: “I…yes! Yes, I did. Yes!” (21)
But that wonderful voice said: “No!!!” (21)
That soft voice continued to say to me: “No! You did not love your Lord above all things and even less did you love your neighbor as yourself! You made yourself a god that you modeled on yourself, on your life! (22)
The Lord gave me an examination of the Ten Commandments, showing me who I was: that in words I adored and loved God, but in reality, I adored Satan (23).
I have not yet told you that when the voice of Jesus was heard and the demons left, because they cannot stand His voice, one of them remained. He had authority from the Lord to remain. This demon was enormous and with horrible screams, he shouted: “She is mine! She is mine! She is mine!” Only he remained because it was he that led me; he manipulated and guided my weaknesses so that I might sin. It was he who pulled me away from confession. Because of this, the Lord permitted him to remain next to me, and this is why that horrible demon shouted that I belonged to him. He had permission to stay, because I died in mortal sin (41).
When my Book of Life was closed, you cannot imagine how I felt: I was truly terrorized. I saw myself with my head down, and I felt as if I was falling toward a pit…I realized that no one could help me! And I said to myself: “And all the people on the earth, they think that I was a saint…they said that if I died, they would ask a grace from me. Where am I going now?” I lifted up my eyes and met those of my mother. I felt so much sadness because she would have wanted so much to carry me into the hands of God. With great confusion and suffering, I cried out to her: “Mamma, what a shame! I have condemned myself! Where am I going, I will never see you again!” (80)
But in that moment, Jesus granted her a very beautiful grace: my mother was motionless, and God permitted her to move her fingers, pointing upwards and inviting me to look up: I looked and, behold, crusts came out of my eyes. It was frightfully painful. It was a spiritual blindness that went away, and in that moment I could see (80).
One day, one of my patients said to me: “Doctor, I feel very, very much pain and sadness for you. You are too much of a materialist. If you find yourself one day in some great affliction or dangerous situation, whatever it might be, ask Jesus Christ that He might cure you with His Blood, and ask Him for pardon, because never will He abandon you, having paid the price of His own Blood for you” (80).
And so with great shame and immense sorrow, I began to cry out: “Lord! Jesus Christ, have compassion on me! Forgive me, Lord, forgive me! Give me a second chance!” (80)
It was the most beautiful moment! I do not have the words to describe it. Jesus bent down and pulled me out of that pit! He lifted me and brought me to a level place, and He said to me with much love: “Yes, you will return, and you will have your second chance…(80).
Do you know what I saw? I saw the great power of intercessory prayer, brothers and sisters! (80).
I saw thousands of thousands of little flames of light going up to the Lord. They were so beautiful; they were like little white flames, stupendous and full of love. They were the prayers of many, so many people who were praying for me. They had been moved after having seen what had happened to me on TV and in the newspapers. They were crying and offering Masses. The greatest gift that you can offer to someone is the Holy Mass (81).
Among those little lights there was an enormous one that was very beautiful: that light was much greater than all of the others. You know, brothers and sisters, why I am here now? Why have I returned? Because there is a saint in my country. I looked with curiosity, in order to know who that person might be that loved me so much, and the Lord said to me: “That man you see there is a person that loves you very much, and he does not even know you.” He showed me that it had to do with a poor peasant who lived in the Sierra Nevada of Saint Martha (81).
This man was very poor; he did not have anything to eat. All of his harvest was burned; even his chickens had been stolen by the “guerrilla” soldiers. The guerrillas wanted to take this man’s oldest son into their service. The peasant man went all the way down to the village to go to Mass (81).
The Lord made me pay attention to the words with which he prayed: “Lord, I love you! Thank you for health, thank you for my children! Thank you for all that you give me! Be praised! Glory to You!” (81).
His prayer was only praise and thanks to God! The Lord made me see how he had only 15,000 pesos in his wallet! ($3 dollars) Do you know what he did…? He gave 10,000 pesos at the offertory! I would put only 5,000 pesos in the basket, and only when someone gave me a counterfeit bill at work! He did not give the 5,000 but the 10,000 pesos, even though this was all that he had! He was not discontented, nor did he grumble due to his poverty, but he thanked and praised God! What an example, brothers and sisters! Afterwards, he went out of the church to buy a piece of blue soap (washing soap); he wrapped it in a piece of newspaper (O Espectador) of the day before. There was the news of my accident and the photograph where I appeared totally burned (82).
When this man saw the news, he read it slowly and cried as much as if I were someone very dear to him, and lying prostrate with his face to the ground, he beseeched God with all his heart, saying: “Father, my Lord, have compassion on this, my little sister, save her, save her Lord! Lord, if You save her, if you save my little sister, I promise you to go to the “Sanctuary of Buga” but please, save her. Please, Lord, save her!” (82).
Think about it, that poor man. He was not cursing nor lamenting for suffering from hunger with his family but, on the contrary, was praising and thanking God…And with a capacity to love his neighbor that was so great, that even though he had nothing to eat, he was disposed to cross the country in order to fulfill a promise for someone he did not even know! (82).
The Lord said to me: “This is true love of neighbor! It is like this that you must love your neighbor.” And it was here that He gave me my mission: “You will go back to give your testimony, and you will repeat not a 1,000 times, but 1,000 x 1,000 times. Woe to the one, who in listening to you, does not change his life (82).
When the Lord made me return to consciousness, my kidneys were not functioning, nor had they put me on dialysis, because it was not worth the effort. They thought I was going to die…But suddenly, my kidneys began to function, and my lungs and my heart began to beat strongly. You can imagine the astonishment of the doctors! By then I did not need machines. (83).
I began my physical recovery, but I did not feel anything alive on the lower half of my body. After a month, the doctors said to me: “Gloria, God is performing a miracle with you, because your skin has grown back over all the wounds…But as for your legs, we cannot do anything. We must amputate them!” (83).
“I beg you, Lord, let me keep my legs!” Immediately, I began to feel them: they were black and without circulation. But from just Friday to Monday, when the doctors arrived, they were very surprised, because my legs were red and the circulation was back! Astonished, they touched me, and did not want to believe. I said to them: “Doctors, my legs hurt terribly, but I believe that there is no one in the world so happy to feel the pain in their legs as I do at this moment!” The doctor on the seventh floor replied to me that never, in thirty-eight years of service, had he seen anything similar (84).
The doctor had said that I could no longer have babies. But one-and-a-half years later, I saw that my breasts begin to grow, expand and were reformed. I was amazed, and I went to the doctor, who informed me that I was expecting a baby! And I nursed my daughter with these breasts! With God, nothing is impossible (84).
Gloria Polo continues to live in Colombia and exercise her profession. She was left with enormous scars, but leads a normal life. She is a woman of great faith who travels all over the world. She gives her testimony to thousands of people, and is fulfilling the mission that God has confided to her, she has the authorization of her local bishop to do so (85).
1. Gloria Polo’s story bears the written attestation of the San Pedro Claver Hospital to which she was taken and the referral of the Archdiocese of Cartagena, the Archdiocese of Bogota, the Diocese of Armenia, and the Diocese of Ponce (cf. Struck by Lightning, The Testimony of Gloria Polo).
2. Text comes from Struck by Lighting: death, judgment, and conversion, published by Michael Journal; Rougemont, Canada, 2012.