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Blessed Damien closer to sainthood

Blessed Damien closer to sainthood

VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI has authorised publication of a decree recognising a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Damien de Veuster of Molokai, clearing the way for his canonisation.

The decree was the first of 13 published by the Vatican on July 3 after the prefect of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins met the Pope at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

Blessed Damien was a 19th-century Belgian missionary, a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Born in 1840, he spent the last 16 years of his life caring for patients with Hansen’s disease, or leprosy, on the Hawaiian island of Molokai.

Blessed Damien died in 1889 and was beatified in 1995.

With the recognition of the miracle, the date for Pope Benedict’s celebration of his canonisation will be set later.

The miracle attributed to Blessed Damien involves the 1999 healing of Audrey Horner Toguchi, a Hawaiian who had been diagnosed with cancer.

She had a tumour and other tissue removed and underwent radiation; when new tumours were found on her lungs, she decided to pray to Blessed Damien instead of undergoing the chemotherapy her doctors recommended.

The lung tumours gradually shrunk and disappeared altogether.

Another of the decrees approved by the Pope on July 3 involved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Louis and Marie Zelie Guerin Martin, the parents of St Therese of Lisieux. Louis lived from 1823 to 1894 and his wife from 1831 to 1877.

In 1994, the Martins were declared venerable, one of the first steps in the sainthood process.

But despite the active encouragement of Pope John Paul II to move the cause forward, the miracle needed for their beatification was missing.

Pope John Paul, in his letter on preparing for the third millennium, had written of the need to identify holy married couples and beatify or canonise them as examples to all Catholics.

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