The Servant of God, Sr Maria Margaretha of the Angels, OCD
I have not blogged on new Causes being opened for a while, and I think I must today since it gives us all a lift to see the processes of holy people being opened. The announcement of new Causes usually takes place at the end of the month, and looking at the list for March, I see there are a couple of very well known people.
Focolaire have opened the Cause of their foundress, Chiara Lubich, it being five years since her death. I could not believe it when I saw her name on the list - is it five years since we lost that beautiful woman? Time flies when you get old! Chiara Lubich is probably one of the most important Catholic women of the 20th century, not only in founding a major Catholic lay movement, but for her example of a modern woman who reveals through her life and teaching, that faith and the life of holiness are as important now as ever. She was a Saint-maker herself: encouraging others to strive for sainthood and forming Saints through her wisdom and example. Blessed Chiara Badano, Focolaire's first Blessed, was very much her spiritual daughter and the fruit of the charism Chiara Lubich was given by God. We look forward to a successful conclusion to her Cause.
Another great layperson of the 20th century is also on the list: Fra Andrew Bertie, the former Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. He too died in 2008. He was the first Englishman to hold the office since the 13th century. He never married and, in the style of the Knights of old, offered his life in the service of the Church and the mission of the Knights of Malta, taking perpetual vows. In the secular world he served in the British army, and then became a teacher. Interestingly he was a distant cousin of Elizabeth II of England. Reflecting on the purpose of the Knights of Malta, Fra Andrew used to say that they existed to serve the poor and sick - that was their primary purpose on their foundation, and it is their purpose and mission today.
We Discalced Carmelites also rejoice as yet another of our sisters begins the path to sainthood (we hope): Sr Maria Margaretha of the Angels. Born in Antwerp in 1605, the daughter of Philip van Valkenisse, an official in the city, she entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Antwerp in 1624. She embraced religious life with great enthusiasm and a desire for holiness, practicing mortification, gaining a reputation for sanctity. She had a particular devotion to the Eucharist. In 1644 she founded a new monastery in Oirschot and was elected prioress, governing her community with great wisdom and offering her sisters a dynamic example of the contemplative life. She manifested a number of charismatic gifts, chief among them the stigmata which she received in 1654. Witnesses have also claimed she had the gift of bilocation. She died on the 6th February 1658. After her death miraculous oil oozed from her body - what is referred to as the "manna of the saints"; it was collected and reports claim it was instrumental in many healings. Her body was buried, then exhumed, stolen and eventually laid to rest in St John's Cathedral in 's-Hertogenbosch. What is extraordinary is the length of time it has taken for Maria Margaretha's Cause to be opened.
The Servants of God Cardinal Franjo Kuharic and Cardinal Peter Poreku Dery
Finally, I see the Causes of Cardinal Kuharic and Cardinal Dery have been opened. Cardinal Franjo Kuharic, who died in 2002, was Archbishop of Zagreb in Croatia, and Cardinal Peter Poreku Dery, who died in 2008, was Archbishop of Tamale in Ghana. Interestingly Cardinal Kuharic, as head of the Croatian Episcopal Conference's investigation into Medjugorje, designated the place a shrine.