January 28-30, 2000
volume 11, no. 20
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Columba Marmion and Asian Martyrs Scheduled for Beatification

    VATICAN CITY, JAN 27 (ZENIT).- Very soon the United States will have a singular model of sanctity. This morning, the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Catherine Marie Drexel, opening the doors directly to her canonization, which will take place during the Jubilee year 2000.

    Drexel was born in Philadelphia in 1858. Her father was a Catholic, and her mother Protestant. She founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, dedicated to the defense and promotion of Native and African Americans in the United States. She established Xavier University to offer ethnic minorities the possibility of development through Catholic education, and she became a real pioneer in the advancement of human rights. Catherine Marie died on March 3, 1955 in Conwells Heights.

    In addition to John XXIII, the decrees promulgated this morning by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints prepare the way for the beatification of 3 martyrs representing the Asian missionary Church, and who were killed out of hatred for the faith at different periods, between the 17th century and the first half of the 20th. They are diocesan priest Fr. Nikola Bunkerd Kitbamrung, who was martyred in Bangkok, Thailand in 1944, and two lay catechists: Andrea (no surname), who was killed in Vietnam in 1644, and Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino who gave his life for the faith several decades later on the Island of Guam.

    This morning's decrees also open the path to beatification by approving miracles attributed to Irish Benedictine Columba Marmion (1858-1923); Fr. Georges Preca (1880-1962), a Maltese priest and founder of the Society of Christian Doctrine; Indian Sister Maria Teresa Chiramel Mankidiyan (1876-1926), founder of the Sisters of the Holy Family; Swedish Sister Marie Elizabeth Hesselblad (1870-1957), founder of the Order of the Most Holy Savior and St. Bridget. Finally, the decree officially proclaimed the heroic virtues of German priest Fr. Franciscus Saverius Seelos (1819-1867), who dedicated himself to helping immigrant compatriots in the United States.

    The path to official recognition as a saint in the Catholic Church begins with a diocesan investigation. Afterwards, if all goes well, the cause moves to the Vatican, where a proclamation of the "heroic virtues" of the Servant of God must be made. At this point, the future saint carries the title "Venerable." If he or she died for the faith, a declaration of martyrdom on the part of the Vatican suffices to allow beatification, giving the title "Blessed." Those who did not die for the faith require documented evidence of a miracle to be beatified. Finally, for canonization, which brings the title of "Saint," all candidates must have documented evidence of a miracle brought about by their intercession after their beatification. ZE00012708


January 28, 2000
volume 11, no. 20

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