What was Pope Benedict officially doing on February 11 when he announced to some assembled cardinals that he would resign on February 28? He was accepting the decrees of canonization, beatification, and the rest from Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
At that meeting, he approved the canonization of the Martyrs of Otranto, who are featured in Saint Who? and who I’ve nicknamed the Bravehearts of Italy. They were 800 men, roughly aged 15-85, all of whom gave up their life rather than give up their faith.
Benedict also approved sainthood for Sr. Laura di Santa Caterina da Siena Montoya and Sr. Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala.
Beatification cause for Spanish “St. Gemma” sent to Vatican.
The Archdiocese of Barcelona has forwarded to the Holy See the beatification cause for Magdalena Aulina Saurina. At age 15, Magdalena read a biography of St. Gemma Galgani, and desired to live, like St. Gemma, a consecrated life but as a laywoman in the world and not as a religious. Like St. Gemma, she was a mystic. She founded something like a Girls Club for girls to have some place to be after school while learning more about their faith. All of this was designed to help her become leaven in the dough, and she attracted dozens to her by her holiness. She died in Barcelona on May 15, 1956. Today her work is active in Europe, Latin America, and Africa.
Sainthood possible even in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles is known for giving our culture many things, some good, some not so much. However, it is possible it may soon give us something very good, a new saint.
The groundwork for the beatification of Fr. Aloysius Ellacuria, who died in 1981. Father was a reputed miracle worker. For instance, there is a story of a young boy with a withered arm whom God healed through Father making the Sign of the Cross over it.
Born in Spain’s Basque region, he became a Claretian Missionary at age 11 and received ordination at age 24. Sent to the United States, he spent almost the entirety of his priestly life there. As a priest in Los Angeles, people -- even some bishops -- came from miles around to get spiritual direction from him.
According to a Catholic News Agency interview with his secretary, well-known San Diego priest Fr. Kevin Mannion, “Fr. Aloysius was particularly effective in correcting those in doctrinal error, the priest said.
“‘He was not ‘wishy-washy” in any way at all. At the same time, he was not brusque. He was not abusive. He was paternal, and he had a certain authority.’”
CNA also reports that The priest’s life has been the subject of several books and the documentary movie “The Angel of Biscay.” Furthermore, a Catholic association to work for Fr. Aloysius’ beatification and canonization is operating at the website www.aloysius.com.
Pope Francis approves his first decrees from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
On March 27, Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Maria Theresa Bonzel (1830- 1905), the German foundress of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, so we will soon call her Bl. Maria Theresa Bonzel. She founded the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, which is the sponsoring order of the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, IN. The approved miracle concerned the inexplicable healing of a Colorado Springs boy who had suffered from severe gastrointestinal pain.
He also declared as martyrs 63 Servants of God, 58 of whom were killed in the Spanish Civil War. The Pope’s decision automatically makes them blesseds, since blesseds don’t need a miracle to qualify for beatification.
Additionally, he approved the heroic virtues of seven Servants of God, which now earns them the title “Venerable.” All but one died after 1947, so they’re pretty modern candidates for beatification. Furthermore, one, Bro. Antoine Kowalczyk, was a one-armed Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate who died here in North America. Bro. Antoine didn’t let his disability keep him from working as a mechanic and driver. His personal devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary was so great that everyone called him “Brother Ave.”
Pope not unfamiliar with sainthood causes
When he was cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis put forward the beatification cause of Carlos de Dios Murias, a Franciscan priest killed in Argentina’s La Rioja province with Fr. Gabriel Longueville and layman Wenceslao Pederna. There were also five Pallotine clerics killed at St. Patrick Church in Buenos Aires, Fathers Alfredo Kelly, Alfredo Leaden and Pedro Dufau and their seminarians Salvador Berbeito and Emilio Barletti. A right-wing hit squad murdered them.
Diocese of La Crosse opens first beatification cause
The Diocese of La Crosse in southwestern and the middle of Wisconsin has opened its first beatification cause. Its candidate is an ethnic Polish priest originally from Grand Rapids, MI, who spent most of his life working at the diocese’s missions in Bolivia and is the founder of its Casa Hogar Juan Pablo II orphanage in Lurin, Peru. Ordained in 1950, he died in 2006. The website for his cause is www.frjoesguild.org.
Widow of Modern Day St. Thomas More passes at age 100
Franziska Jägerstätter, the widow of freedom of conscience icon Bl. Franz Jägerstätter, passed away on March 16, two weeks after her 100th birthday. She was the mother of three of his four daughters. While she had vacillated between supporting and opposing her husband’s refusal to serve in the Nazi infantry, which is what cost him his life, she ultimately backed him up. As such, she became something of a martyr herself since many of her fellow villagers blamed her for her husband’s decision. Nothing, however, could have been further from the case. He had already made an irrevocable decision to die for God rather than fight for evil.
Italian priest beatified
CatholicCulture.org reports that Father Luca Passi (1789-1866), an Italian priest who founded Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, was beatified on April 13 at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
Bl. Passi was “a great witness to God for the young and the poor,” Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said during the homily of the beatification Mass, at which 5,000 were present. “He was a great example for the Christian education of the young generation and also a great evangelizer.”
Archbishop Romero’s cause “unblocked”?
According to the postulator of the beatification cause for Archbishop Oscar Romero, Pope Francis has personally assured him that the Servant of God’s cause will be “unblocked.”
Romero was a controversial archbishop of San Salvador, El Salvador. Initially seen as someone who would make no waves, His Excellency became ever more brave in his advocacy for the poor at a time when his nation was torn by civil war. After he came to be seen as more-and-more allied with those on the Left, a right-wing hit squad burst into a Mass he was celebrating and shot him dead.
Bl. John Paul II may be canonized before year’s end
According to Catholic World News, “A panel of doctors has confirmed that there is no medical explanation for a healing attributed to the intercession of Blessed John Paul.... If theologians and cardinals recognize the healing as a miracle, it will fulfill the requirements for the canonization of the late Pontiff. The doctors who studied the case agreed that the healing was inexplicable. The case will now be examined by a panel of theologians appointed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If their report is also favorable, the cardinals who serve on that Congregation would also be asked to certify the miracle, and then, with the Pope’s approval, the canonization of John Paul II could be scheduled.”
Priest killed by Calvinists beatified
In another item from Catholic World News, “Father Nicolò Rusca (1563-1618), a priest who was tortured and killed at the instigation of Calvinists, was beatified on April 21 in Sondrio, the northern Italian city of 20,000 where he served for decades as a parish priest.... Fr. Pietro Riva, the postulator of the beatification cause, explained that Blessed Rusca’s exhortation to Catholic youth not to attend a Calvinist school led to his martyrdom.”
North Korean bishop proposed for martyrdom, beatification
The Korean bishops conference has asked the Vatican to allow them to open the beatification cause for the first and only ordinary of Pyongyang, North Korea, Bishop Francis Hong Yong-ho. While Bishop Hong would certainly seem to qualify as a martyr, the Vatican has never acknowledged he is dead, even though no one has seen him since his disappearance at the hands of North Korean secret police in 1950. However, if he was still alive, he would be almost 107 years old. This is, of course, possible, but it is unlikely given the North’s treatment of religious prisoners. For instance, in the early 1980s, the government discovered a woman religious who had been living quietly and not practicing her vocation for 30+ years. Not surprisingly in a country where simply owning a Bible or even a Rosary is grounds for summary execution, the government had her killed. Nonetheless, the Vatican says it “cannot be excluded that he may still be a prisoner.” Knowing what happens in North Korea’s kwalliso or gulags, the South Koreans say this is highly unlikely.
Servant of God posthumously receives Congressional Medal of Honor
On April 10, President Barrack Obama presented the Congressional Medal of Honor to Ray Kapaun, who received it on behalf of his late uncle, the Servant of God Emil Kapaun.
An Army chaplain, Kapaun was captured by enemy forces during the Korean War and incarcerated in one of their POW camps. To a man, those imprisoned with him -- Jew, Protestant, and Catholic -- says Fr. Kapaun never thought of himself. Rather, his concern was keeping the men’s flagging spirits alive in the dead of winter when food, shelter, and clothing were completely inadequate. He had been just as self-giving on the battlefield, even saving the lives of at least one comrade.
After the ceremony, outgoing Wichita Bishop Michael Jackels said, “I thought, ‘I have to get a copy of the President’s speech and send it to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints,’ because I don’t think you’d even need to prove a miracle to canonize somebody of the caliber of the person he described in that speech.”