Submarine Crew Owed Survival to Croatian's Intercession

Peruvian Officer Prayed — and Then Did the «Humanly Impossible»

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DUBROVNIK, Croatia, JUNE 6, 2003 ( A Peruvian officer attributes his surviving a submarine accident to the intercession of Croatia’s first beatified woman.

Among the 50,000 pilgrims present at the beatification Mass today in the port of Dubrovnik was Roger Cotrina Alvarado. He was the lieutenant of the submarine Pacocha, which on Aug. 26, 1988, crashed into a Japanese fishing-vessel near the Peruvian port of Callao.

When the submarine began to sink, the then young officer commended himself to the intercession of Sister Maria of Jesus Crucified Petkovic, founder of the Franciscan Congregation of the Daughters of Mercy.

At that moment, Cotrina Alvarado was able to close an inside door with the strength of his arms, despite the pressure of the water that was flooding the submarine.

The maneuver was considered «humanly impossible» by two commissions, one military and the other Vatican. The miracle became the door that opened the way for the Croatian’s beatification.

Nineteen other officers trapped in the submarine were saved; six crew members died in the accident.

«When I was little, I heard the story of Maria Petkovic because my mother had a book on her, and every night she read a few pages to me before I went to bed,» Cotrina Alvarado explained in Dubrovnik.

«For me, Maria Petkovic was an extraordinary woman, she helped the poor of the whole world, in particular those of South America,» he said.

Maria Petkovic, born in 1892 in Korkula in the Adriatic Sea, founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Mercy in 1920. She created orphanages and charitable centers in the Balkans and later in Latin America.

From 1940 to 1952, she worked in charitable centers in Argentina and Paraguay, before returning to Rome where she died in 1966.

Showing the decoration he received for having saved his companions’ lives in the 1988 accident, Cotrina Alvarado pointed to the image of the new blessed and said: «The merit is hers.»

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