At the same time the Vatican announced Bl. Kateri Tekawitha and Bl. Marianne Cope would receive canonization, it also said Bl. Anna Schaeffer would receive the same honor. Now, who is Bl. Anna Schaeffer, you may be asking? She was a young woman in the late 1800s who was trying to earn a dowry to become a religious missionary. That’s when she suffered an industrial accident that made her legs useless. For eight to nine years, she begged, pleaded, cajoled, yelled at, got angry with, and badgered God endlessly to give her a miracle. And there was no miracle. The reason she was angry was that she wanted to go bring souls to Christ as a missionary sister. And, of course, because she wanted something so good, even great, Bl. Anna just assumed that this was what God wanted, as well.
She’s in my book, 39 New Saints You Should Know, and it was only through this very tender priest that she came to accept that her wishes were not God’s will for her life. And when she did, she got exactly what she wanted. Because she became progressively holier, people started writing her and coming to her for advice. Some challenged her to prove various points of the Faith. So, you see? She became a missionary. It’s just that she ministered to souls from her bed rather than in a jungle or out in a desert.
She’s one of my favorites in my book 39 New Saints You Should Know, and I love her because she shows what God will do with us once we get out of the way and stop resisting Him.
Seelos Sainthood Cause Has New Legs
You could say the canonization cause for Bl. Francis Xavier Seelos has new legs now that Fr. John Murray can walk again.
Murray, who is renowned for his preaching, broke his neck and became completely paralyzed after tripping on his walkway in October 2010. Doctors told him after emergency spinal cord surgery he would never walk again. The thought that he had forever lost the ability to move left Father feeling quite hopeless.
In late November, however, just six weeks after the accident, he moved his leg. It was a very small movement, but it was an actual movement and not the sort of phantom phenomenon one often hears about in those who have lost limbs or become paralyzed.
While he needs a Zimmer frame to get around, Fr. Murray is now completely self-sufficient. His explanation? A first class relic of Bl. Francis Seelos he carries with him wherever he goes and the intercession he asked Bl. Seelos to make. The two have a lot in common. Like Seelos was, Murray is a Redemptorist priest. Both served in Baltimore, and both were once the rector of same parish.
Fr. Murray’s doctor, a born-again Christian, says she believes Father’s recovery is a miracle. However, before it is credited as such, it must pass a rigorous review by the Congregation for the Causes of saints. If it is authenticated by the Congregation’s medical board, the Congregation will then determine if all the combined evidence warrants recommending Bl. Francis’ canonization to the Holy Father. This could take several years.
Cause of Two British Nuns – One of Whom Saved Jews from Nazis – Moves Forward
The investigation phase of the beatification cause for two Servants of God – Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough and Sr. Katherine Flanagan – has been forwarded by the cause’s postulators to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. First introduced in July 2010 by the Diocese of Rome, investigators say they have found nothing that would contradict the finding that the two lived lives of heroic virtue.
If the Congregation agrees, it will forward this information to the Holy Father, and if he concurs, the two will be declared “Venerable.” To become blessed, each would need a miracle. The same for each to receive canonization.
Both of the women religious were members of the Bridgetine Sisters founded by St. Bridget of Sweden back in the 14th century.
Mother Riccarda came from Brighton, England, and she was received into the Church at age 4 when both her parents converted. Not long thereafter, her family moved to Rome, where she spent the rest of her life. After the Germans occupied Rome, she hid over 60 Jews in the Casa Santa Brigida, the Order’s generalate. She took such good care of those people, many took to calling her “Mama.” She died at 79-years-old in 1966.
Sr. Katherine, on the other hand, was from Clerkenwell, England, and was baptized at the parish church in Earlsfield, south London. At first, she made a living as a dressmaker, before discerning at age 19 a call to the religious life and the Bridgetine Order, in particular. So much did her order trust her, they made her the founding prioress of three convents, including one at Vadstena, Sweden, where St. Bridget had died and where Sr. Katherine herself passed in 1941.
Average Catholics Can Help Nun’s Beatification Cause in an Entertaining Way
Now there average Catholics have a way to help promote the beatification cause of the Servant of God Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey. She is the woman many credit with rediscovering the Blessed Virgin’s house in Ephesus, Turkey. On January 5, Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph hosted a book signing of a brand new biography that will help people learn more about Sr. Marie in an entertaining way while raising needed funds for the process at the same time. The diocese is promoting her cause since the diocese that encompasses Ephesus is too poor to do so.
According to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph’s diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Key, “Adele Louise Marie de Mandat-Grancey was born in 1837, the fifth of six children of the Comte and Comtesse de Mandat-Grancey. While still a child, she began to consider the religious life. Marie joined the Daughters of Charity in 1858, and made her first solemn profession of vows in 1862. Her first mission was an orphanage in northwestern France, where she served as a nurse and in the pharmacy; she also taught 55 orphans and 60 day students. While there, she started the Children of Mary association.
“In 1870, Sister Marie was asked to serve as Sister Servant, or superior, for the orphanage at Le Pecq, a suburb of Paris. In 1880, the private revelations of Anne Catherine Emmerich, a German nun and mystic who had visions of the life and death of the mother of Christ, were published. Although the nun had never traveled outside Germany, in the 1850s she dictated her visions of the ruins of Mary’s house in detail to Clemens Brentano, who later wrote the book. Sister Marie obtained a copy to share with her community, and it made a deep impression on her.
“In 1886, she answered a call by Pope Leo XIII for volunteers to Asia Minor and was assigned to the French Naval Hospital in Smyrna, now Izmir, Turkey. It was not lost on her that Smyrna was a mere 75 kilometers or 46.6 miles from Ephesus, where Emmerich had said Mary lived out her final years in the company of St. John and visiting Apostles.
“Sister Marie was appointed Sister Servant of the hospital in 1890 and dedicated herself to the care of the sick and children. Father Schulte said she met Christ in each student, patient and the poor, whether Christian or Muslim. She “brought all the beauty of God’s world in prayer to all she met,” he said.
“In 1891, she encouraged Lazarist (as Vincentian priests are known in France) Fathers Henri Jung and Eugene Poulin to travel to Ephesus, following the roadmap given by Emmerich’s revelations, and see if there was compelling evidence that Mary truly had lived there.
“Closely following Emmerich’s revelations, the priests found the house said to have been built for Mary by St. John and local Christians on the mountain top named Bulbul Hill (Nightingale Hill). Greek Orthodox and Muslim oral traditions have held for centuries that that is where St. John took Mary, the mother of Jesus, after the Crucifixion, fleeing persecution of Christians in Judea. On the Aegean Sea, Ephesus, some 700 miles from Jerusalem, became a haven for early Christians. St. Paul is said to have lived there for three years around 45 A.D.
“Sister Marie used her personal fortune to acquire and restore the ruins, and five years before her death in 1915, signed the deed to Meryem Ana Evi, Mary’s House, over to Father Poulin. The American Society of Ephesus, founded in 1955 by telecommunications pioneer George Quatman, has since then organized and helped fund large-scale reconstruction and restoration efforts of Mary’s House, the nearby tomb and basilica of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist, and other shrines around the world.”
To get your own copy of the book, go to your local Catholic bookstore (find it here) or if you don’t have one in your area, go here. To learn more about Sr. Marie’s beatification cause, go to http://www.sistermarie.com/.
Important Date for Snowshoe Priest Cause Next Week
Diocese of Marquette Bishop Alexander Sample is asking all faithful Catholics to pray between now and next Tuesday, February 7. That is the day that the cardinals on the Congregation for the Causes of Saints will meet to determine whether the Servant of God Bishop Frederic Baraga deserves the title of “Venerable.”
Bishop Sample is particularly asking for prayers and penance on Monday, February 6. There is already a miracle attributed to Bishop Baraga, and there are plans to move his tomb to a prominent place in Marquette’s cathedral if he receives the Venerable designation.
Bishop Baraga was arguably one of the most impressive bishops in US history. Born to Slovenian nobility, he could speak six languages by age 16. After his ordination in 1823, he answered a call from Cincinnati’s Bishop Edward Fenwick for priests to minister to the increasing number of Catholics in the diocese. Because of his facility with languages, he was sent to a mission in northern Michigan to better learn the Ottawa Indians’ tongue. He became so proficient at this that he wrote the first book in that language, which was a combined prayer book/catechism. Additionally, he wrote an Ojibwa language dictionary, and worked very hard to ensure that the Indians were not forced to relocate.
Since there were no roads to reach the different remote settlements, he trudged to each on snowshoes. That’s how he came to be called the “Snowshoe Priest,” and he traversed hundreds of miles on those things, often in the worst weather imaginable. A lot of times, he would have to walk across frozen portions of Lake Michigan. He did this until he was in his 60s when he became too infirm to do so anymore.
His work won many admirers and so in 1853, he was consecrated first bishop of what became the Diocese of Marquette. His letters to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith struck their readers as so exotic and thrilling that they were eventually published. A young John Neumann read these and they helped him decide to come to the US. He is, of course, St. John Neumann, the US’s first male saint. After 45 years as a priest and over 35 years amongst the Indians and settlers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, he became deaf, had a number of strokes, and went to his reward on January 19, 1868.
To learn more about this wonderful, holy man, go to http://www.bishopbaraga.org/. Also, I encourage you to join the Bishop Baraga Association, of which I’m a proud member. You’ll support a good cause and their newsletter is always very interesting.
Cause of Maryknoll co-founder, Tar Heel state denizen to open soon
The Diocese of Raleigh in North Carolina has announced it will formally open the beatification cause of Fr. Thomas Frederick Price, a Wilmington native, on March 9.
In 1886, at age 26, Price became the first man native to the Tar Heel state to receive Holy Orders. For the first 25 years of his ministry, he served as an itinerant preacher, riding hundreds of miles on horseback, often through [hostile] fundamentalist territory to serve the state’s Catholic community, which numbered just 1,000 at the time.
Then in 1911, he partnered with Fr. James Walsh to found what we would eventually call the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. He died in Hong Kong just eight years later of a ruptured appendix.
The Raleigh diocese is the third to attempt to start his cause after Hong Kong and New York. The effort to move his cause happened because so much of the documentation concerning him exists in local archives.
Stunning new DVD out to promote Sheen beatification cause
A new documentary has been released by those leading the beatification cause of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Titled Servant of All, all proceeds go to help fund the often costly canonization process. In December, the Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, sent to the Vatican its review of an allegedly miraculous saving of a baby boy. If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approves the case and the Pope accepts it, this would qualify Archbishop Sheen for beatification.
The documentary features such both obscure and well-known known personalities such as Regis Philbin, Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, Fr. Jonathan Williams, and Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, whom many compare to Sheen.
The film costs $24.95 and is available through your local Catholic bookstore and was produced by Ignatius Press. For more information, go to http://www.sheenfilm.org or call 877-71-Sheen.
Austrian Woman Becomes First Female Politician Ever Beatified by Church
On Sunday, January 29, an Austrian politician named Hildegard Burjan was beatified in Vienna’s Cathedral of St. Stephen.
Her family was Jewish that valued education, and as this precocious girl grew up, she developed an abiding interest in politics. After high school, she studied philosophy at the University of Zurich, where she earned her PhD magna cum laude in 1908. She had married the wealthy industrialist Alexander Burjan in 1907, and in 1909, following a serious illness, came into the Church.
Moving with her husband to Vienna that same year, she saw the poverty and unjust social conditions that permeated the city. Instead of ignoring these problems, she instead she founded the Association of Christian Women Home Workers, which not only provided poor housewives with both material and emotional support, but also struggled to put a stop to child labor. She also created the Congregation of Sisters of “Caritas Socialis.”
When she became pregnant with her daughter, her doctor advised her to abort because they feared she would die. Valuing her child’s life more than her own, however, she flat out refused, and both ended up perfectly fine.
It is said that everything she did was marked by an effort to see Our Lord’s face in everything we do. “We cannot help people with money and small offerings,” she would say, “rather we must give them the confidence that they are capable of doing something for themselves.”
In 1919, she ran for and was elected to the Austrian parliament, becoming the first woman to do so. Her platform was Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum, and while in office, she promoted equal wages for men and women, minimum wage, and social security. She also worked across party lines, and her colleagues recognized her as the “conscience of the Parliament.” Despite a promising career, however, she served only for one term and dedicated the rest of her life to social work. She died June 11, 1933, at the age of 50. She is the first female politician to achieve beatification in the Church’s history, and her feast is June 12.
In his homily during a Mass of Thanksgiving this past Tuesday, January 31, Archbishop of Vienna Christoph “Cardinal Schönborn noted that Hildegard Burjan is proof that sanctity is also possible in political life. She ‘announced the Gospel through action,’ he said. ‘Her beatification comes at a good time to highlight that action is a core issue. . . . Hildegard was a convincing Christian because, without too many words, she acted. In our own time we must again learn to understand what it means to be disciples, and to this end what we need are not theories, but examples of people who speak through their actions.’”