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October 7, 1999

Cardinal Bevilacqua Pleased with Vatican Medical Board Decision

The Medical Board of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican today ruled there is no natural cause for the cure of a child's deafness, a cure attributed to the intercession of Blessed Katharine Drexel. The decision brings the Philadelphia religious one step closer to canonization as a saint.

"I am gratified by the decision of the medical experts," said Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua. "Although this does not yet mean the cure is miraculous, it has now withstood its severest scrutiny to date. Physicians on the board have concluded that no medical explanation exists for this healing. I have hoped and prayed that their conclusion would further the cause for canonization for this truly remarkable woman. Katharine Drexel relinquished her personal fortune to establish schools and missions devoted to helping poor Native Americans and African-Americans and to establish an institute of women religious committed to that calling."

The congregation established by Katharine Drexel, Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, is based in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. John Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia introduced Katharine Drexel's cause for canonization in Rome in 1964. The cause has been in process ever since.

In 1988, Pope John Paul II declared the healing of a young man's deafness, which was caused by an inner ear infection, to be a miracle, attributed to the intercession of Katharine Drexel. The declaration earned Katharine Drexel the title of "Blessed." In December 1996, Cardinal Bevilacqua directed that Philadelphia Church officials investigate a second alleged cure attributed to the sole intercession of Blessed Katharine Drexel. The cure involved the healing of a 17-month old child who had suffered from nerve-deafness since birth. Such a condition in children is incurable. The case was sent to Rome in April 1997 for review by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which convened the board of five doctors (Consulta Medica) to examine medical aspects of the case.

Today's decision by the medical panel moves the case forward to a board of theologians and, finally, to Cardinals and Bishops who are members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If the Cardinals and Bishops of this Congregation recommend that the healing is the result of prayer to Katharine Drexel, only then will the Holy Father declare that a second miracle has taken place - the final step needed for Katharine Drexel to be canonized a saint..


Editor's Note: You may also be interested in contacting Blessed Katharine Drexel's institute of women religious based in Bensalem. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament can be reached at 215-633-7330. Please ask for Regina Tracy or Sister Faith Okerson.

For more information, visit

Click here to read more about Blessed Katharine Drexel in a U.S. News Cover Story (1/1/99).

Cathy Rossi
Director of Communications

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