Category Archives: Sainthood causes

Alvaro del Portillo’s beatification set

Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, first successor of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of the Prelature of Opus Dei, will be beatified on 27 September 27 2014, in Madrid, Spain, where he was born. The beatification will be celebrated by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB.

Alvaro del Portillo was born on March 11, 1914, joined Opus Dei in 1935, served in various capacities, and ordained a bishop by John Paul on January 6, 1991. He died on 23 March 1994.

When the Church gives us a new person to follow at the Altar as way to adhere to Jesus more closely, we ought to do our best to know the person well. The Prelate of Opus Dei proposes that through del Portillo that this is a good time to gain to acquaint ourselves with his life, writings, witness, and by opening our heart “…to imitate his love for God and others, his desire to fulfill always and in everything the divine Will, his apostolic zeal and capacity to serve souls….”

Here is a video about the miracle received through the Bishop del Portillo’s intercession before the Holy Trinity. The story of the newborn Jose Ignacio Ureta Wilson is moving.

The latest news on the beatification may be found at:

Matteo Ricci sainthood cause moves ahead

Matteo Ricci stamp

A well-known Jesuit missionary to China’s cause for sainthood was advanced today with the closing of the local phase of study. Matteo Ricci’s cause for sanctity is now moved to the Holy See. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints —the office at the Holy See deputed to study the documentation for those proposed for sainthood— was requested to beatify Italian Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci. Cardinal Angelo Amato, the Prefect, and his staff of scholars and outside experts, will now pour over lots of documentation.

By the time Ricci entered the Society of Jesus in 1571, the founder, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, was dead since 1556. The Jesuits gave Ricci an exceptional education in philosophy,  theology, mathematics, cosmology, and astronomy. In 1578, his Jesuit superiors missioned Ricci to the East Asian mission, and then in 1580 the Jesuit superior Father Alessandro Valignani  sent him to the East Indies the idea of going to China.

Claudio GiuliodoriThe announcement that the diocesan stage was closed was made by the former bishop of the diocese where Matteo Ricci was born. Bishop emeritus Claudio Giuliodori of the Diocese of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia and now the General Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, said today as the formal diocesan process closed.

The 16th century Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) was favored by Benedict XVI and he’s been mentioned a few times by Pope Francis as a model for evangelization. Ricci was sent by his Jesuit superiors to Asia, namely China to bring the gospel.

His Holiness notably spoke of Father Ricci in his address with the Jesuits who serve as editors to the well-known journal, La Civiltà earlier in 2013 where he reflected on the notion of seeking God in all things with a particular openness to the truth, goodness and beauty of God.

In November, the Pope said of Ricci: “We must always ask forgiveness and look with shame upon the apostolic failures brought about by a lack of courage. I am thinking, for example, of the pioneering intuitions of Matteo Ricci which, at the time, were abandoned.”

No pontiff, though, has spoken with force about the positive work in evangelization than Pope Benedict XVI. See these previous blog posts here, here AND here.

Father Ricci brought with him his mathematical and astronomical training to China and studied the Chinese language, literature, history, and culture which earned him accolades from the Emperor as a scholar. Ricci faced criticism from European Jesuit and Church superiors for what was perceived as a deviation in standard modalities of evangelization.

Theresa Neumann the mystic and stigmatist

Theresa NeumannThe mystical life of the Catholic Church is rich with a variety of experiences. Let’s think of many men and women through the ages: Francis and Dominic, Catherine of Siena, Padre Pio, Catherine of Genoa, Hildegard of Bingen, and Sister Nazarena, to name a few. There are those who, because of God’s will, bore the wounds of the Lord’s holy Passion, not for their own designs but to bring others closer to the Savior. This is key. Yet this is a remarkable claim to make. I am sure there frauds but the people I am mentioning here do not fall into this category. I can think of Francis of Assisi, Catherine de Ricci, Anne Catherine Emmerich, Gemma Galgani, Rita of Cascia. In the history of salvation the Church can name more than 300 persons, most of them women, who bore in their body the wounds of Jesus.

The Servant of God Theresa Neumann (1898-1962) is one such person who is known to be a mystic and stigmatist. She is a person who trusted deeply in the Lord. The teaching of the Church says mysticism is that “intimate union with the Divinity, or a system growing out of such a tendency and desire.” Mystics are intimately connected with what we believe about the Holy Spirit and discernment. And by “mystic” I do not mean Theresa Caputo the Long Island Mystic who is a fraud.

This afternoon, at the request of my friend Glenn, I watched a 50 minute film on the life of Theresa Neumann, a German mystic and stigmatist who faced controversy and yet was resolute in doing what God asked of her. Glenn studies the mystical phenomenon found in the Church. Without Glenn’s encouragement I wouldn’t be drawn to this form of discernment.

For looking for the remarkable, many are intrigued that Theresa Neumann subsisted for 36 years only the Eucharist; it wasn’t that Neumann lived on nothing –she lived on the Savior. She said, “The Savior can do all things. Did He not say that “my Flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink?”

Her visions were spontaneous and biblical; she was convinced that her life was guided The Little Flower (many of Neumann’s own healings coincided with Theresa’s beatification and canonization). Neumann experienced the Lord’s Passion 780 times except during the liturgical season of Christmas and Easter. For what it’s worth, Churchmen and scholars, laity and professionals say that they felt her visions and stigmata were a genuine supernatural manifestation.

Some who met her attested to Neumann’s visions being authentically biblical, even her speaking in the Lord’s tongue, Aramaic, and bestowing certitude in the Lord’s holy Passion and resurrection. But only in knowing Theresa Neumann could one say with certitude that she was doing the Lord’s work and not her own: knowing Theresa you came to know a woman who had a deep trust in God; skeptics left converted.

What I became interested in as a result of this film was Neumann’s humanity. Who was she as a person? Several things were revealed: she was not easily influenced, she was vivacious, warm, loved to joke and tease, a god mother, cared for the dying, loved nature and working, tended a garden and prefer the outdoors, not overly pious, loved horses, and like to travel. Sounds like a good woman to me!

What Theresa Neumann verified in her life with the wounds of the Passion was what Saint Theresa had said, “more souls are savers through suffering than by brilliant sermons.” She felt a deep responsibility to lead others to Jesus Christ, the Savior. And this central for us: do we feel the responsibility to show the face of Jesus Christ to others? Does our life lead others to a deeper communion with the Trinity?

Sainthood Cause of the Martyrs of Algeria, opened

Cause of the Martyrs of AlgeriaThe Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (the Trappists) announced that,

On October 7, Archbishop Bader of Algiers, with the agreement of the Abbot General and his Council, appointed Father Thomas Georgeon, monk of La Trappe and present Secretary of the Abbot General, as postulator of the cause of Archbishop Claverie and his 18 companions (among them our 7 brothers of Tibhirine). The appointment was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints on October 11, 2013.

The 7 monks of the Monastery of Notre-Dame de l’Atlas were killed 26/27 March 1996. The Atlas Martyrs:

  • Dom Christian (de Chergé) – prior of the community
  • Brother Luc (Paul Dochier)
  • Father Christophe (Lebreton)
  • Brother Michel (Fleury)
  • Father Célestin (Ringeard)
  • Father Bruno (born Christian Lemarchand)
  • Brother Paul (Favre-Miville).

A 2010 film on the monks was released, “Of God and Men” which was well-received.

You may want to read Christian Salenson’s Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope (Cistercian Publications, 2012).

Pope to canonize Jesuit without second miracle

Peter FaberWhen Pope Francis spoke with Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro of La Civiltà Cattolica he spoke in a definite manner of his admiration for the person and charism of Blessed Peter Faber, a 16th century Jesuit and close collaborator of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. This was likely the first time many heard of Peter Faber.

Blessed Peter was an early companion of Loyola and was the first of the early founders to be ordained a priest. Moreover, it ought to be recalled that Faber was a master in giving the Spiritual Exercises.

It is expected that Pope Francis will canonize Faber (1505-1546) in December. This papal act is clearly more important for the Society of Jesus than for others in the Church unless they have a devotion to the Spiritual Exercises. I welcome this canonization for the same reasons that others speculate that move Pope Francis.

The procedure of canonization is an act of infallibly of the Pope. The decision has been made. He has deemed the canonization will happen without a certified second miracle is not without precedent. Pope Benedict did the equivalent canonization for Hildegard of Bingen while making her a Doctor of the Church at the same time. Pope Francis waived the second miracle for Blessed John XXIII. Other examples are cited in the article below. The papal pen writes many things, even bulls of canonization.

Andrea Tornielli writes,

French Jesuit priest Peter Faber to be made a saint in December

Pierre Faber, a “Reformed” Jesuit priest whom Francis sees as a model figure, is to be proclaimed as saint before Christmas, Stefania Falasca reports in an article for Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire. The process for his cause in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is complete and now all that remains is for Francis to issue the Bull of Canonization that will proclaim the first companion of St. Ignatius a saint, extending the cult of the soon-to-be-saint to the Universal Church.

Faber was born in the Upper Savoy region of France in 1506 and died in Rome in 1547 just a few weeks before he was due to attend the Council of Trent. He was beatified in September 1872 with a Papal Rescript issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and ratified by the Society of Jesus. Now Francis is extending the liturgical cult to the Universal Church.

The process followed for Faber’s canonization is called “equivalent canonization”. This is when the Pope omits the judicial process and ceremonies involved and orders a servant of God to be venerated in the Universal Church, when such a saint has been from a remote period the object of veneration, when his heroic virtues (or martyrdom) and miracles are related by reliable historians, and the fame of his miraculous intercession is uninterrupted. “Examples of this in recent history include John Paul II, who decreed 3 such canonizations, Benedict XVI who decreed 1, the last of which was that of Angela da Foligno, confirmed last 9 October by Pope Francis,” Avvenire writes.

But Faber’s canonization takes on a whole new meaning as the Jesuit is “a model of spirituality and priestly life for the current successor of Peter. At the same time, he is an important reference point for understanding the Pope’s leadership style.” Faber lived on the cusp of an era when the unity of the Church was being threatened. He mostly kept out of doctrinal disputes and steered his apostolate towards a reform of the Church, becoming a pioneer of ecumenism.”

Francis spoke about Faber in his famous interview with Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica, revealing some key aspects of the priest as a figure: “[His] dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents; his simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving.”

“The picture of Faber that emerges from the texts is that of a thinker in action, a man who was profoundly attracted by the figure of Christ and was understanding of people. The cause of separated siblings was one he held close to his heart and he was good at discerning spirits. He lived an exemplary priestly life and the unconditional nature of his ministry was reflected in his patience and gentleness. He gave himself without asking others for anything in return. Faber distinguished himself for his “affective magisterium”, in other words, his gift for spiritual communication with people and his ability to put himself in other people’s shoes,” Falasca writes

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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