The Church has is about to recognize a new saint. On May 15, Pope Francis will canonize Italian religious Sister Mary of Jesus, born Carolina Santocanale (Palermo, 1852 – Cinisi 1923), founder of the Capuchins of the Immaculate Conception of Lourdes. The Consistory that approved the canonization of Sister Mary of Jesus was held on March 4, 2022, with the pope presiding.
The Church’s formal process of canonization — which attests that the saint is in heaven and intercedes for us — generally requires the witness of two miraculous actions attributed to the saint’s intercession. One miracle is required for beatification — granting the title Blessed — and a second for canonization. For Sister Mary of Jesus, the miracle for her beatification is particularly surprising. It occurred in 2003, and was explained to Italian website Cinisionline.it by Fr. Antonio Ortoleva, the member of the Diocesan Tribunal who examined it.
“In 2004 this serious accident happened. Andrea (Gracchiolo) fell from the skylight he was building, from a height of 36 and half feet. As he was passing from one side to the other, the board on which he was walking broke, and he fell onto the central point of the future chapel where the body of the Mother Foundress would be placed. This young man who fell from 36 and a half feet onto the concrete wasn’t hurt. He fell face down, with his hands over his face; he got up and looked himself over and had no injuries. The other workers came down, thinking they’d find a corpse. Seeing him safe and sound, they told him, ‘The Mother Foundress has taken you in her arms.'”
A bouquet of flowers for the Mother
Fr. Antonio Ortoleva continues the story of the miracle attributed to Carolina Santocanale. “They took Andrea to the hospital, and they gave him a report which confirmed that he was unharmed by this fall. They returned to the Mother House carrying a bouquet of flowers. The sisters, who didn’t know anything yet, saw this procession of people passing by—workers, an architect, the director of works—and asked, ‘What are you doing with these flowers?’ ‘Today the Mother Foundress saved us. She allowed this work to continue here, but above all she saved Andrea’s life.’”
“God saved him”
The young man “initially kept his family in the dark so as not to worry them. He later recounted what happened and everyone was amazed. He himself recognized divine intervention. They’re a family with strong religious values. It was God who saved him. Miracles are not worked by the saints, but by God through the intercession of the saints. We are therefore convinced that Mother Mary of Jesus intervened with God asking him to save this life.”
The miracle for her canonization
No less significant is the miracle that was confirmed in the process that gave the green light for Sr. Mary of Jesus’ canonization. The website of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints explains that through the blessed’s intercession, a young woman who was clinically infertile was miraculously cured. Just as her infertility had been beyond scientific doubt, so too was her restored fertility: she has given birth to two healthy children since her healing.
Sr. Mary of Jesus was beatified on June 13, 2016, in the Cathedral of Monreale, Palermo. Her mortal remains are venerated in the new chapel, adjacent to the small church of the Mother House, which is located in Cinisi, Italy.