Anica Ercegović, born 1905 at the village of Gradusi nr. Sunja, fell seriously ill at the age of 19. The disease – lung TB – was incurable then, and there were also other diseases. After six years of unsuccessful treatment, at the beginning of July 1930, she prayed a novena to Ivan Merz, and on the ninth day of the novena she went to his tomb on Mirogoj cemetery in Zagreb. She stayed there in long prayer. The miracle happened at the grave during the prayer. She returned home completely healed. After that she lived in full health until her death and never saw a doctor or took medicines. She lived to the ripe old age of 82 when she died in 1987, 57 years after she was miraculously healed. Her miraculous healing by the intercession of Ivan Merz was confirmed by the Vatican commission consisting of five medical doctors, on 8 May 2002. This miraculous healing was accepted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints as a prerequisite for the beatification of Ivan Merz.
Here are excerpts from her letter where she described her illness and her miraculous healing in detail. She wrote the letter to p. Josip Vrbanek, SJ, spiritual counsellor of Ivan Merz, at the beginning of January 1943.
My illness and treatment lasted over six years. The days between 1924 and 1930 were filled with disease, treatment and suffering. Dr Barić who treated me said the illness was serious and had to be treated accordingly. He found accelerated heart beat, some noises, neurosis, rheumatism and arthritis, weak and diseased lungs and a wound full of bacteria on the left side. Then he found a disease of the bladder, stomach, spleen and kidneys. He gave me medicines, pills and tea. I had a strong cough and had to take a special medicine every two hours. Nothing did me good and I got weaker and weaker.
I coughed badly. I felt as if I had wounds all over. None of the medicines did me any good. After some time I went to see Dr Vl. Ćepulić. He took an X-ray and found lung TB. I had strong pains and suffering. My arms, hands, legs and feet were swollen and crooked. I was not able to eat or walk because by fingers and toes were crooked. All the medicines were in vain. In 1926 I went to see Dr Ćepulić again. He took an X-ray again and found the same: sick heart, weak lungs. And so I suffered and received treatment until 1930.
On 16 June 1930 my mother died. I was even more exhausted, both mentally and physically. In this condition I went to Zagreb, to Vrhovac, for spiritual exercises which took place in July. The nun who allotted us to our rooms, asked the teacher, Mrs Grgić, why she had brought me, couldn’t she see I was completely exhausted. The spiritual exercises were quite difficult, my nose bled so much that everyone was scared.
When the spiritual exercises were finished, I went to Merz’s tomb on Mirogoj, asking him to help me get well. I knelt and prayed and cried in silence for a long time. I know I was not worthy to get well. Already at the tomb I was convinced that Merz would help me. From his tomb I came home healthy. I came home, told this to the family. They don’t believe me and are afraid for me, look at me as if I was a wonder doing all the housework. I had gone to Zagreb sick, and came back well. I started doing all the housework: cooking, doing the washing by hand, scrubbing the barn, working in the garden. In between I sewed. I started putting on weight suddenly. Again everyone wondered what it was. On 18 October I went to Zagreb again to see Dr Ćepulić. He did not know why I had come, but as soon as he saw me he said, “But you are no longer ill. You look as stout as a bishop” and he laughed. He made an X-ray examination and wrote a certificate: I have examined Miss Anica Ercegović today and have found her quite healthy. This was my last visit to the doctor. I have been well ever since. I do not feel any sickness. Everyone wonders and asks, especially about my rheumatism. I feel as light as a bird in the air. Since 1930 I have been going to church three times a week: Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. I walk the five kilometres to the church and the five kilometres back. On the way to the church I pray the rosary, and in the church I recite the mass aloud and go for the communion. On those days, when I go to the church, I do not have breakfast. When I come home, I start work. Every Sunday I work at the meeting of the Crusader women, and I also help at the meeting of Catholic women. I also have several patients in my care and there are also other people I have to help.
All my life is thanks and song to Jesus for the great present of help. Merz is with me everywhere, at everything I do and helps me and that’s why everything is easy. He conveys all my wishes and pleas to Jesus! Every day I go to his tomb in spirit and put white flowers there.