"I am cured. It is the work of God, through the intercession of pope John Paul II," told Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, smiling broadly before a barrage of television cameras.
"It`s something very strong, very difficult to put into words," she told reporters in the southern French city of Aix en Provence.
The 46-year-old nun was holding her first news conference since the Vatican revealed that her testimony could provide evidence of a posthumous miracle performed by John Paul II after his death.
Convincing evidence of a miracle -- usually a medical cure with no scientific explanation -- is essential in the beatification process, the first step to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
Sister Marie Simon-Pierre had been suffering from Parkinson`s, a degenerative disease of the nervous system, since 2001. She has testified that she was cured in June 2005 after praying to John Paul II, whose final years were marked by the disease.
The nun recounted how she had suddenly been able to write legibly after struggling for months to hold a pen, the disease having progressed to the point that she no longer controlled motion in her hand.
"I was sick and now I am cured. It`s up to the Church to say whether this is a miracle," she said.
Originally from northern France, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre belongs to a Catholic congregation from Puyricard, near Aix en Provence, where she was in charge of a maternity ward when she developed Parkinson`s.
Following the pope`s death in April 2005, her health took a turn for the worse. "I was 17 when John Paul became pope -- in a way he was my pope. I felt as if I had lost a friend, someone who gave me the strength to go on."
She said she went through "two terrible months," but wanted to continue her work at the maternity.
"On June 2, I couldn`t take it any more. I didn`t want my ward to suffer because of me, so I went to my superior, Sister Marie-Thomas, to ask her to replace me."
"She handed me a pen and asked me to write the words `John Paul II`," the nun said. "The writing was virtually illegible."
She said her superior told her to hang on a while longer, saying: "John Paul has not said his final word yet."
Returning to her room, she said she heard a voice telling her to pick up a pen and write. She says she had time to think "That`s funny, your writing is clear," before falling asleep.
"At 4:30 am, I woke up with a start, I felt completely transformed, I wasn`t the same inside. It`s something very hard to explain, too strong, too great, a mystery."
"Inside, I was certain I was cured. I came across a sister ... and told her as I held up my hand, my left hand, `look, my hand is no longer trembling. John Paul cured me,`" she said.
At lunchtime, she stopped taking her medicine. Five days later she saw her neurologist, who said he was "astonished."
"Since then I have not taken any treatment. My life has completely changed -- it was like a second birth for me," said Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who has been working as a nurse at a Paris maternity clinic since late 2006.
Her identity was kept secret during a year-long Vatican inquiry, which wrapped up on March 23, into her claims that she had been cured through the late pope`s intercession.
She is due to travel to Rome to take part in the process that is to culminate with the beatification of John Paul II, which would put him on the first step to sainthood.
The nun will attend a solemn ceremony on Monday, the second anniversary of John Paul II`s death, when the beatification dossier is to be handed over to the Vatican`s saint-making body.
The Rome diocese`s website carries dozens of testimonials from individuals claiming cures at the hands of the pope, but to qualify as a miracle the recovery must be sudden, complete and permanent -- as well as inexplicable by doctors.