Archive for June, 2009

Seelos miracle coverage

June 30, 2009

There was a sudden spike in readership here today, and I wasn’t sure why.  Then I noticed on my WordPress stats that a ton of people had found their way here by searching “Francis Seelos.”  But why the sudden interest in him, I wondered. 

Turns out, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Seelos miracle investigation is getting some increasingly significant coverage.  I noted below that AOL News had reported on it yesterday.  Now today, Fox News has picked up (via the AP).  Also, it was covered on a Baltimore station’s television news, and that coverage has been posted on YouTube:

For visitors who are interested, I summarize Seelos’ life and ministry here.  But don’t take my word for it; there’s a great Seelos website here.


The Pope’s Unexpected Announcement: St. Paul’s bones are here.

June 29, 2009

Now this (from the London TimesOnline) is really cool.  I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more attention in the Catholic press/blogosphere.  (Or did I just miss it?)  He  announced it at vespers last night.

Basilica bones are St Paul’s, Pope declares after carbon dating tests

Pope Benedict XVI said last night that bone fragments found inside the tomb of St Paul in Rome had been carbon dated for the first time, “confirming the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul”.

He said that archaeologists had inserted a probe into the white marble sarcophagus under the Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls which has been revered for centuries as the tomb of St Paul.

The pontiff said: “Small fragments of bone were carbon dated by experts who knew nothing about their provenance and results showed they were from someone who lived between the 1st and 2nd century. This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of Paul the Apostle.”

The Pope, who said the discovery “fills our souls with great emotion”, made the unexpected announcement during Vespers at St Paul’s Basilica last night, marking the end of the Pauline year held in honour of the apostle. He said that as well as bone fragments, archaeologists had found grains of red incense, a piece of purple linen with gold sequins and a blue fabric with linen filaments in the tomb.

Full story here.

He Signed It

June 29, 2009

Sts-Peter-and-PaulThe Pope announced today (during his brief address following the praying of the Angelus, which followed the tradition pallium Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul) that he has signed Caritas in Veritate.  The encyclical, Pope Benedict’s third, will be released to the public on July 6 or 7 (an Italian paper, Corriere della Serra, reports). 

The long-awaited document will be the latest installment in the Church’s rich tradition of applying moral principles to various social issues.  Collectively, this is known as Catholic Social Teaching

The report in Corriere della Serra includes a peek at few paragraphs of the new encyclical.  A clip from the CNA report, taking off from the CdS report:

According to the Pope, the current crisis has been sparked by “a deficit of ethics in the economic structures.” A reform of the current system, therefore, will require “a common code” based on “the truth from both faith and reason,” capable of providing “the light through which the human intelligence arrives at natural and supernatural truth of charity.”

Vecchi claims that the Pope will recall the “social responsibility of private companies,” but also underscore that “true development is impossible without honest men, without financial operators and politicians who strongly feel in their own consciences the call to [serve] the common good.”

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’ll be preparing a study companion to the document, to be published by Pauline Books and Media, along the lines of my Your Guide to Spe Salvi: Saved in Hope.  To make the companion to the new encyclical as timely as possible, we’ve already done the preparatory paperwork on the project (truth be told, it’s been done for over a year — that offers an illustration of how long the publication of this encyclical has been on the horizon!) and I’ve agreed to turn in a completed manuscipt in about a month.  (Thank heavens I’m on summer vacation from work.)

Can’t wait to dive in!

(Thanks to Whispers for pointing out the news.)

On 2 American Causes

June 29, 2009

Two articles out this weekend, relating to the causes of two American figures who lived around the same time:

A lengthy Baltimore Sun article on the official investigation of a miracle attributed to Blessed Francis Seelos (1819-1867).  It regards an Annapolis woman who recovered (miraculously?) from cancer.  (UPDATE: AOL has picked up on the Sun‘s story and put a headline, with link to a report, on their front page today, 6/29/09.)

An article from the Buffalo News on the cause of Fr. Nelson Baker (1841-1936), who lived in Lackawanna, NY, related to a new book called The Father Baker Code.   Clip:

In the new book, Koerner recounts stories about Father Baker’s alleged wonder-working, including that of Mary Timm, a former employee in the basilica gift shop who told many people about her experience in which an apparition of Father Baker scared off a robber who was holding up the store; he also tells of healing stories involving Baker, including that of a woman healed of a serious ear condition in 1999 in the basilica.

Koerner said it was stories like that one – in which a person prayed to Baker, and believed himself or herself healed of a serious illness through Baker’s intervention – that led him to the title of his book.

“It’s a theory of mine,” he said. “The code I’ve come across with Baker is, if you combine piety with suffering, it leads to miracles. It’s almost like a rule. It’s the key to his whole life – he can empathize with suffering, because he has been through it himself.”

There’s a blog on Baker and his cause here.

Buzz on Kapaun’s Cause

June 27, 2009

There have been a few articles in the local press out in Kansas and Illinois about a Vatican investigator showing up to look into the possibility of a miracle attributed to Fr. Emil Kapaun.  The American Korean War Army chaplain was a Wichita diocese native. 

Actually, one of the articles notes the investigator will be looking at several such cases, but the focus seems to be on one in particular — the recovery of a young Kansas man who had suffered a traumatic brain injury in a pole vaulting accident.   One of those apparently supporting the idea of the recovery being unexplainable by medical science is the neurosurgeon that treated the young man.

Full article here.   A clip on Kapaun:

Kapaun was a chaplain assigned to the U.S. Army’s 8th Cavalry regiment, which was surrounded and overrun by the Chinese army in North Korea in October and November 1951.

Kapaun became a hero, rescuing wounded soldiers from the battlefield and risking death by preventing Chinese executions of wounded Americans too injured to walk.

He became a hero again in prison camp, stealing food for prisoners, ministering to the sick, saying the rosary for soldiers, defying guards’ attempts to indoctrinate soldiers, making pots and pans out of roofing tin so that soldiers could boil snow into drinking water and boil lice out of their filthy clothing.

Hundreds of American prisoners died in the camp of exposure or starvation or illness that first winter. The Chinese guards did nothing to tend Kapaun when he became sick; he died in May 1951, two years before the war ended.

Soldiers who survived have praised Kapaun for decades; some of them have said he deserved not only sainthood but the Medal of Honor, in addition to the lesser Distinguished Service Cross the Army awarded him after his death.

A site dedicated to promoting his cause is here.

At Peter’s Tomb, Virtually

June 26, 2009

st peterThe Vatican has added a very cool feature to its webpage.  You can now take a virtual tour of the Vatican necropolis, the excavations of the ancient cemetery that still lies below St. Peter’s Basilica, and which includes the tomb of St. Peter.  

It takes a little tinkering to get the hang of exploring around, but it’s as close as you can get to an experience of being there through your computer screen.  They’ve done a great job of putting this together.  Have a look.

And while you’re at it, if you’re up for a little more, be sure to check out the full text of Margherita Guarducci’s famous book The Tomb of St. Peter, first published in 1960.

A St. Damien Museum in Hawaii

June 25, 2009

It’s in the works:

And artifacts are everywhere: A lock of his hair is under glass in a circular box. Damien’s vestments hang in a specially made plastic display case near the door. And in a corner case sit his personal items, including his glasses.

Some of these artifacts have never been seen by the public. Many haven’t been on display in years.

But the congregation is working to change that.

With Father Damien’s canonization just four months away and interest in his life growing around the world, congregation members are finalizing plans for a permanent Damien museum in Waikiki, which they hope to have open in about a year; working to digitize Damien photos before they are lost to age; and fielding more requests for Damien information. It’s work the tiny congregation, of which Damien was a member, is happy to do despite limited resources.

Full story here.

Also online: An interview with a 91 year-old nun who participated  in a 1936 procession as part of the move of Fr. Damien’s remains from Hawaii to Belgium.  (He had died in 1889.)  She’s planning on being in Rome for his Oct 11 canonization.

Caritas in Veritate – coming next week?

June 24, 2009

Magister also reports that it looks like the Pope’s next encyclical will be signed by him next week.

Vianney, Pio, and a renewal of Confession

June 24, 2009

Very interesting article from Sandro Magister:

The Fourth Sacrament under Restoration: On the Job, the Cure’ of Ars and Padre Pio

Endless streams of penitents stood in line at their confessionals. And Benedict XVI is proposing them as models in order to revitalize the sacrament of forgiveness. Surprisingly, Cardinal Martini also agrees with the pope. And he even wants a council for this purpose

“Love Made Flesh on Earth”: Mother Petra Moeinngmann

June 23, 2009

From Indian Catholic:

KANNUR, India : Catholics in Kannur, southern India, are celebrating after the local bishop began the process of having a much-loved German nun declared a saint.

Bishop Varghese Chakkalakal of Kannur declared Mother Petra Moeinngmann a Servant of God during a Mass on June 14.

The declaration precedes a three-stage process by which a sainthood candidate may be declared “Venerable,” then proclaimed “Blessed,” and lastly canonized.


The saintly nun was “love made flesh on earth,” retired Bishop Jacob Thoomkuzhy of Trichur said, while officiating at the Mass. “There was nothing extraordinary about her, but her love for the poor and sick was remarkable,” said the bishop who had worked with the nun.


Mother Petra joined a German Ursuline congregation in 1957. According to Sister Vandana, postulator of Mother Petra’s sainthood cause, the late nun was moved by the stories she heard about the poor in India and decided to leave her teaching profession to travel to Kerala in 1966.

She served at a Catholic hospital in Kottayam and later founded her congregation to help the poor. Each of the congregation’s 85 convents runs either an orphanage, a home for the elderly, a dispensary or schools for mentally handicapped people, said Sister Vandana.

Mother Petra died in a road accident in 1976 in Kannur.

Full story here.