To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines.
First Published: 23 September 2009
The mystery surrounding how the grounded ship Forum Samoa II became safely extricated from the reef off Apia on 4 September has explained.
“It was a miracle attributed to the Carmelite Saint Therese of Lisleux,” the nuns of the Carmelite Monastery at Vailima revealed yesterday.
This view is supported by the Chairman of Samoa Shipping Services’ (SSS’) Task Force Tupuola Koki Tuala who said last night: “I can confirm what happened was a miracle.”
What happened was that the ship had been towed out to sea on 19 August to make way for another ship at the wharf, when the rough seas caused it to drift. It eventually got stuck on the reef.
Tupuola said the weather was still rough and he felt sorry for the ship’s crew.
That was his main priority apart from the safety of the ship its cargo, and possible damage to the marine environment should the ship spill oil.
“This went on for five days. Meantime he was continuing to pray for some sort of relief to happen.
Then he went back to the Carmelite nuns and asked them to continued to pray.
It was at that time that Sister Teresa told him to take his rosary of Saint ‘Therese of Lisicux’ to the ship and drop it in the water near it.”
“But I don’t have a rosary of Saint Therese,” Tupuola said he told her. “I’ve given the last one away.”
But did he have any picture of her, he was asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
“Then go take a photocopy of it, put it in an envelope and take it to the ship, and then drop it in the water near the ship.”
‘This time Tupuola obeyed and did as he was told. He took the envelop with Saint Therese’s photo in it to SSS’ general manager Sala Setoa, and told him to take it the ship.”
“Give it to the crew” “Tupuola advised, “ask them to have a prayer then drop the envelope into the sea.”
Sometimes later, Tupuola said he received a phone call from the crew saying the weather was getting worse and they were afraid.
They wanted to come ashore. In response, he told them stories to build up their faith and asked them to wait for a while longer.
And then the trend changed, Tupuola said he was told later. “The crew said the tide lifted, they felt the ship move, and it then slipped slowly into the water.
“They didn’t have to do anything as the ship continued to move away.”
By seven the next morning the ship was back in the water having moved further away from where it had been lodged on the reef.
“Our prayers were answered,” Tupuola said. “It was a miracle of faith.”
Up at Vailima at that time looking down on Apia Harbour, Sister Teresa, Sister Helena and Sister Stella were anxiously monitoring the movements of the ship.
“The other’s saw it move away from the reef and they came running up saying it’s moving,” Sister Teresa said, “We just stand there and said thank God.”
Since then the ship has been sitting at the Apia wharf as if nothing had happened to it three weeks ago. It is expected to remain there for sometime while precautionary measures are being carried out.
As for St Therese of Lisieux, she was a Carmelite nun from the obscure French town of Alencon, Normandy. Born in 1873, she died aged 24 of tuberculosis.
Before her death, she uttered the prophecy: “I’ll let fail a shower of roses on the earth when I’m in heaven.”
And many who have been in the presence of her holy remains have reported the mysterious appearance of roses, earning “The greatest saint of all time” the nickname “The Little Flower”
After her death the Carmelite sisters came upon her writings, where she beautifully described her joys and sorrows.
They were published in Story of a Soul. Soon there were reports of miracles from people who had prayed to her.
Canonised in 1925, Therese’s celebrity has turned her home town into France’s second most visited shrine after Lourdes.
On the centenary of her death in 1997, she was named a Doctor of the Church.
“There are physical miracles and healings that do happen when they are near Therese,” it has been reported.
“But the real miracle is when people find that their hearts are opened to love, to love God, to love other people, and to forgive.”