Woman who inspired pilgrimage to her Hollywood home dies at 81

Rosa Lopez claimed to see the Virgin Mary in clouds

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. - For more than two decades, the faithful would flock to the Hollywood home of Rosa Lopez on the 13th of every month. 

"It helps strengthen my faith and it gives me hope," Hollywood resident Jackie Vera said in May 1998.

Vera was among thousands of people who traveled from near and far to witness what they called the "door to heaven." 

It all started in 1990, when Lopez claimed she saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in the clouds above her home.

Many of those who came to see for themselves became believers in not just the vision, but in Lopez herself, claiming she cured them of disease.

"I was ready for a transplant, but here I am," one follower said.

There were, of course, skeptics. For a long time, even the Catholic Church, of which Lopez was a member, said the visions of the Virgin Mary weren't authentic.

Lopez was overcome with joy when Pope John Paul II invited her to the Vatican in 1998.

"I can't believe it. I think it's terrific. It's beautiful," she said.

When people would gather, Lopez would step out of her home and lead them in prayer.

She started a foundation called Our Loving Mother's Foundation of Hollywood to help those in need.

"I'm happy to help people. That is my mission," Lopez said in 2004.

Lopez died on Saturday at the age of 81 after a five-year struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

Visitation will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday at Forest Lawn South Funeral Home in Davie.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday. 

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