Thirteen years ago, Audrey Santo nearly drowned.
But while the little girl was rescued, she has been a coma ever since the accident. She’s also become a destination for thousands of pilgrims who believe she can perform miracles.
On Sunday, some 3,000 people came to Christ the King Church in Worcester, Mass. — as they do each year — to pray for Audrey, now 16. And perhaps they’re also hoping for a blessing from the girl, who has laid motionless and speechless since her near-death at age 3.
“Audrey brings them to Jesus,” says her father, Steve Santo. “They ask for her intercession — cancer, healings, children with diabetes.”
Her parents say she’s in a state called “akinetic autism.” Her followers say she brings miracles — miracles that have even caught the eye of the Catholic Church in Rome, which two years ago launched an investigation into the mystery of the little girl in Massachusetts (see Web Link).
There are reports that statues in the Santo home drip with oil. And then there are the believers. One Rhode Island mother says Audrey Santo intervened to save her choking daughter.
“In Stephanie’s presence, I said ‘Audrey Santo, I think you’re a living saint, and I’m asking if you could please intervene with me to help my daughter who can’t breathe,’” said Gael Berberick. “And at that moment, Stephanie coughed.”
Her family says they get anywhere from 20 to a hundred visitors each week of people who just want to see the girl and pray near her hospital bed. Some of them come seeking miracles.
But her parents say the one real miracle is that Audrey is still alive.
ABCNEWS affiliate WCVB in Boston contributed to this report.