By The Associated Press
Indiana nun among four saints to be canonized Oct. 15
ST. MARY-OF-THE-WOODS — A 19th-century French nun who founded a religious community in western Indiana is among four people that Pope Benedict XVI will elevate to sainthood on Oct. 15, the Vatican said Saturday.
The pope announced he would canonize Mother Theodore Guerin, Bishop Rafael Guizar Valencia of Mexico and two others. The announcement occurred during a ceremony in the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City that centered on the reading of decrees approving sainthood for beatified faithful.
Guerin left her homeland in 1840 for the-then frontier state of Indiana, where within a year of her arrival she founded an academy for girls that’s now known as St. Mary-of-the Woods College near Terre Haute. She died in 1856 at age 57.
Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara, the general superior at the mother house for the community, the Sisters of Providence, announced the development to an assembly of sisters early Saturday.
"For people of Indiana and for people of all faiths, we have been given a gift in this woman and this woman has been given for all of us." O’Hara said.
Guerin’s official name at a saint has not been decided, but the order has asked that she be known as Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, O’Hara said. She will be the first saint from Indiana.
The Sisters of Providence announced earlier this year that Benedict XVI had approved a miracle — the regaining of eyesight by an employee at the mother house — attributed to Guerin’s intercession.
Sister Marie Kevin Tighe, the promoter of Guerin’s cause for sainthood, was in Vatican City to represent the order, also called a congregation, at the pope’s announcement.
"This announcement signifies the culmination of the great effort of the congregation for almost 100 years. It was a wonderful feeling, truly a moment to be celebrated," Tighe said in a news release issued by the community.
Guerin was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1998. One miracle is needed for beatification. After beatification, another miracle is required to move forward on the path to canonization.
A saint in the Roman Catholic Church is an individual whose life and deeds are held in esteem by the church.
"It is important understand that saints do not perform miracles," Tighe said. "They provide an intercession with God because, in the Catholic tradition, we believe saints are close to God. People commonly pray to their favorite saints to ask them to ask God for a favor."
O’Hara and Sister Denise Wilkinson, the order’s vicar, will travel to Rome in mid-July to complete plans with Vatican officials for the canonization ceremony.
Plans are being made for travel arrangements for people who may want to go to Rome for the ceremony. O’Hara said the order soon will announce the itinerary.
"We expect that there will be several hundred people accompanying a group of our sisters to Rome," she said.
Guizar Valencia, who also is being made a saint, was known in life for his piety and kindness to the poor. He was born April 26, 1878, and cared for the wounded and dying in Mexico’s 1910-17 revolution. Named bishop of Veracruz, he was driven out of his diocese and was forced to live in hiding in Mexico City.
His body was exhumed in 1950, 12 years after his death, and witnesses said it had not decayed.
Also being canonized are two Italians: Filippo Smaldone, founder of the Salesian order of nuns known for his work with deaf-mutes, and Rosa Venerini, who founded a religious teaching community.
Benedict XVI named five new saints last Oct. 23, which was his first canonization ceremony since becoming pontiff.
During his 26-year pontificate, Pope John Paul II canonized 482 people and beatified 1,338 — more than all his predecessors over the past 500 years combined.
However, Benedict is known to have approved the start of only one new cause since his election 14 1/2 months ago: that of John Paul himself.