Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Simon Caldwell

8/4/2008 (7 years ago)

The Catholic Herald (UK) (www.catholicherald.co.uk/)

Sister Elizabeth has been compared to a Victorian Mother Teresa because of her work among poor mill workers and refugees from the Irish potato famine, although she was derided in her own lifetime as a "revolutionary".

Highlights

By Simon Caldwell

The Catholic Herald (UK) (www.catholicherald.co.uk/)

8/4/2008 (7 years ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes


LONDON (Catholic Herald) - The unexplained healings of two people from terminal illnesses are to be investigated as possible miracles that could give Britain its first woman saint in more than four decades.

A man suffering from cancer and a woman with a brain injury from a fractured skull recovered from their conditions after their families prayed to Sister Elizabeth Prout, a 19th-century nun who worked with the poor in the slums of Manchester.

Catholic officials in England are now preparing to travel to Chile, where both healings took place, to begin preliminary investigations that could result in the Pope declaring Sister Elizabeth a saint in as little as five years time.

Sister Elizabeth has been compared to a Victorian Mother Teresa because of her work among poor mill workers and refugees from the Irish potato famine, although she was derided in her own lifetime as a "revolutionary".

A convert from the Church of England to Catholicism, she opened nine schools in industrialised parts of the north west of England and set up an order of nuns - the Sisters of the Cross and Passion, or Passionist Sisters - who helped women to escape poverty by training them in the skills they needed to make a living on their own.

Her order now has more than 300 Sisters working in Britain, the Irish Republic, America, Botswana, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Peru and Chile.

A 14-year diocesan investigation into Sister Elizabeth's life of "heroic virtue" drew to a conclusion with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool at her graveside in the Church of St Anne and Blessed Dominic, St Helens, Merseyside, on Tuesday and the file on her life was sealed and sent to the Vatican.

The Holy See will carry out its own investigation before declaring her "Venerable" and two approved miracles will be required for her beatification and canonisation.

Glasgow-based Passionist Fr Paul Francis Spencer, the postulator of her Cause, said the first of two possible miracles occurred in 2000 and involved a married father with "a very serious cancer".

Fr Spencer said: "He was to be operated on and there was very little hope of him surviving the operation, the doctors said.

"A friend of his was in contact with the sisters and knew about Elizabeth Prout and he recommended that the family should pray to her.

"The whole family, together with their friends, prayed through the intercession of Elizabeth Prout for his cure.

"When the doctors came to operate, they did a preliminary X-ray or scan and they found no sign of the cancer being there."

The second healing happened in 1999 and involved a woman who inexplicably recovered from a brain injury, incurred in an accident, after her family prayed to Sister Elizabeth.

Sister Anne Cunningham, the Manchester-based superior general of the Passionist Sisters, will this month fly to Chile to interview the people involved and their doctors.

If she and her delegation decide there are grounds to pursue the healings as possible miracles they will ask Catholic leaders in Chile to set up tribunals to formally gather evidence.

If Sister Elizabeth's Cause progresses as planned she will become the first British woman saint since Paul VI canonised the Reformation-era martyrs St Margaret Clitherowe, St Anne Line and St Margaret Ward - and possibly the first British saint since the Scottish Jesuit St John Ogilvie was canonised by Pope Paul in 1976.

Born in Coleham, Shrewsbury, Sister Elizabeth became a nun in her 20s after she fell under the influence of Blessed Dominic Barberi, an Italian Passionist priest working in England.

Soon afterwards she began working with the poor and caught tuberculosis. She died in St Helens in 1864 aged 43.

Passionist Sister Dominic Savio Hamer, who helped to prepare the documents for her Cause, said the nun would probably be known as "St Elizabeth of Manchester" if she was canonised.

She said that Sister Elizabeth was a woman of "great integrity and great honesty" who taught her followers to combine lives of prayer with social action.

"She was totally selfless," said Sister Dominic, who is based in Warrington, Cheshire. "She gave herself completely to God. She constantly searched for the will of God and she endured such hardships to carry out the will of God."

Sister Elizabeth is now one of at least five post-Reformation British men and women whose Causes for sainthood are being considered by the Vatican.

They include Cardinal John Henry Newman, a convert from Anglicanism whose beatification is expected to be announced by Pope Benedict XVI later this year.

The others are Fr Ignatius Spencer, the great-great-great uncle of Diana, Princess of Wales, and a relative of Winston Churchill.

The aristocratic, cricket-mad Fr Ignatius, a Passionist priest and also a convert, was a good friend of Sister Elizabeth and helped her to draw up the rules for her order.

They died the same year and now lie side by side in a side chapel in the same St Helens church where Blessed Dominic was also buried..

Other candidates for sainthood include the Venerable Mary Potter, a Londoner who founded the Little Company of Mary, an order of nursing nuns in Nottingham, in the 19th century, and Venerable Margaret Sinclair, a 20th century Scottish nun who died of tuberculosis after tending to the poor in the slums of Edinburgh.

There are also scores of beatified martyrs of the Protestant Reformation whose Causes have yet to proceed to canonisation.



Comments


More Christian Saints & Heroes

The Life of Ignatius of Loyola Challenges All of Us to Become Saints Watch

Image of On July 31st we remember the founder of the Company or Society of Jesus (Jesuits), Ignatius of Loyola. He is the patron saint of soldiers and of retreatants. There is a connection. He was a soldier and the Spiritual Exercise which he left us have been used for hundreds of years to help men and women like us encounter Jesus Christ, on retreats, and in our daily lives. The disciplines they promote can help us to grow in holiness of life, no matter what our state in life, and equip us for service in the Army of the King, Jesus Christ.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Over the centuries, the Jesuits have been relied upon by Popes as trustworthy, heroic soldiers for Jesus Christ and His Church. Yes, there have been times when the company seemed to lose its fervor. However, Jesus Christ the King has always sent His Spirit to ... continue reading


St. Bonaventure Points us to St Francis and the Lord Jesus Christ Watch

Image of Bonaventure was a friend and a disciple of Francis. When he looked at Francis he saw Jesus Christ. Bonaventure, like his friend Francis, was also a mystic. To him the Spirit of Francis is the Spirit of Jesus and

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On July 15th in the Liturgical Calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, we commemorate the life, holiness, work and death of a great Bishop and Doctor named Bonaventure. He was born in 1218, became a Franciscan Friar in 1243, and died in 1274. A friend ... continue reading


A Patron Saint for California Watch

Image of Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the heroic 'Apostle of California.' in September 2015.

By Justin Soutar

During his visit to the United States this coming September, Pope Francis will canonize Blessed Junipero Serra, the heroic 'Apostle of California.' Once that happens, the Golden State will have its own patron saint and the Church will have another great missionary role ... continue reading


Lessons From Saint Joseph The Carpenter

Image of Author Alex Basile serves as the Religion Department Chairman at Kellenberg Memorial High School and has written nine books for Saint Pauls Alba House.(www.alexbasile.net)

By Alex Basile

Every carpenter must practice patience. We can learn important lessons from the wood shop in Nazareth from the humble Saint Joseph. I have always been a "do it yourself" type of guy thanks to my father. My dad is always a steady presence during my home-improvement ... continue reading


Learning from St Irenaeus How to Know God Watch

Image of Irenaeus of Lyon wrote these words - The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason, God-who cannot be grasped, comprehended, or seen-allows Himself to be seen, comprehended, and grasped by men, that He may give life to those who see and receive Him. It is impossible to live without life, and the actualization of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy His goodness.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This great defender of the faith insisted on the central claim of Christianity: God can be known and loved-indeed, that is why He came into our midst in the person of His Son; so that through a  relationship with Jesus Christ, man could participate in the ... continue reading


Saint Teresa of Avila: Virgin and Doctor of Prayer Watch

Image of St. Teresa of Avila

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

St. Teresa's whole life is one of simple beauty and fervent purpose; it is a life contained in Christ. She shows us how to live the same way through Prayer.On reading from St. Teresa, a deep feeling of her love for His Majesty envelops us; we begin, in a very real, ... continue reading


Femine Genius, Holiness and St. Teresa of Avila Watch

Image of Teresa of Avila was a mystic as well as an active and effective disciple of Jesus Christ. She demonstrates that the two expressions of the one Christian Way of Life can and should work together in our own experience - no matter what out vocation or state in life. This insight lies at the heart of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council's on the Universal Call to Holiness.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If Christ Jesus dwells in a man as his friend and noble leader, that man can endure all things, for Christ helps and strengthens us and never abandons us. He is a true friend. And I clearly see that if we expect to please him and receive an abundance of his ... continue reading


From St Francis of Assisi to the Faithful: We Must be Simple Watch

Image of St. Francis of Assisi

By St. Francis of Assisi

We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather we must be simple, humble and pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God's sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all ... continue reading


St Therese of the Child Jesus: In the Heart of the Church I Will Be Love Watch

Image of Perhaps one of the most beloved saints of the Catholic Church,Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897) had wisdom beyond any formal learning which came from the depth of her interior life

By St Therese of Lisieux

O Jesus, my love, at last I have found my calling: my call is love. Certainly I have found my place in the Church, and you gave me that very place, my God. In the heart of the Church, my mother, I will be love, and thus I will be all things, as my desire finds its ... continue reading


The Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael: Archangels and Powerful Spiritual Allies Sent by Love and for Love Watch

Image of

By Deacon F. K. Bartels

The Catechism of the Catholic Church informs us - The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls 'angels' is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition (328). Charged by God to ... continue reading


All Christian Saints & Heroes News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11
1 About times and dates, brothers, there is no need ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 1st, 2015 Image

St. Giles, Abbot
September 1: St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter