A Glasgow priest says he believes the intercession of Venerable Margaret Sinclair, an Edinburgh nun who died in 1925, led to his survival of a near-fatal battle with cancer.
“We don’t expect miracles – and I’m not sure I expected one either – after all, my cancer hasn’t gone away – but I’ve been around long enough in ministry not to be surprised. I’ve seen it happen,” Monsignor Smith, who has been a priest for 32 years, said in an interview with Flourish, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Glasgow. “In a sense, you see miracles every day, but the idea that this might help someone to be recognized by the Church as a saint is overwhelming.”
The monsignor said he doesn’t want all the attention, but “if I’ve been granted this favor then I have to let it be known and allow the Church to judge it.”
Since being diagnosed with cancer last May, 58-year-old Monsignor Smith has been asking friends and family to request Venerable Margaret’s intercession. His plea was enthusiastically supported by a neighboring priest, Father Joe McAuley, who is in charge of promoting Venerable Margaret’s cause for beatification.
But Monsignor Smith’s health took a turn for the worse two months ago, when medics discovered a blood clot on his lung and a deadly infection attacking body tissue from his hips to shoulders. Doctors decided not to operate as they were sure it would kill him. They suspected the priest wouldn’t survive 48 hours anyway.
Completely unexpectedly, he did survive. His surgeon said there is “no medical explanation” for the incredible recovery. Monsignor Smith, however, believes that it was the work of Venerable Margaret – something he now wants to tell the world.
“When you ask someone for a favor and they grant it, it is only right to say thank you,” he said.
Venerable Margaret Sinclair was born in Edinburgh in 1900, one of six children who grew up in poverty in a two-room basement. Her father was a dustman and she left school at 14, whereupon she worked as a French polisher and became a trade union activist.
In 1923 she entered a Convent of the Order of Poor Clares in London, becoming Sister Mary Francis of the Five Wounds, where she helped the poor before dying of tuberculosis in 1925. Her body now lies in rest in her home parish of St. Patrick’s, Cowgate, Scotland.
“Margaret Sinclair is a wonderful example of an ordinary Scottish woman, close to our time, who lived the Gospel in the everyday, in a poor family home in Edinburgh, at school, in St Patrick’s parish, the world of industry and into the convent,” said Monsignor Smith.
In 1978 Pope Paul VI declared Margaret Sinclair venerable. If the Church finds Monsignor Smith’s cure to be truly miraculous it could pave the way for her beatification.