French nun in Pope John Paul's beatification case identified

Thursday, March 29, 2007

PARIS -- Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre is the French nun whose testimony of a mystery cure from Parkinson's disease will likely be accepted as the miracle the Vatican needs to beatify Pope John Paul II, an official at the Paris maternity hospital where she works said Wednesday.

The identity of the nun has been one of the Catholic Church's most closely guarded secrets. The nun says that she was cured of Parkinson's after she and her community of nuns prayed to John Paul.

The nun, a member of the "Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood" in Aix-en-Provence in southeast France, works at the Sainte-Felicite hospital in Paris, the official said on condition of anonymity because an official announcement was expected Sunday.

In Rome, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, the Polish cleric spearheading the John Paul's beatification cause, said the bishop in the woman's diocese would announce details about her case during his Palm Sunday Mass this weekend.

French newspaper Le Figaro, in an unsourced report late Wednesday on its Web site, first identified the nun by name, saying she was 45 years old.

The nun is traveling to Rome for ceremonies Monday marking the second anniversary of the pontiff's death and the closure of a church investigation into his life which began after chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Now!" erupted during John Paul's 2005 funeral.

The Vatican's saint-making process requires that John Paul's life and writings be studied for its virtues. The Vatican also requires that a miracle attributed to his intercession be confirmed, before he can be beatified -- the last formal step before possible sainthood.

Pope Benedict XVI announced in May 2005 that he was waiving the traditional five-year waiting period and allowing the beatification process to begin. There is still no word on when any beatification or canonization might occur.

Only one document about the long-mysterious nun's experience has been made public: an article she wrote for "Totus Tuus," the official magazine of John Paul's beatification case.

She wrote of being diagnosed with Parkinson's in June 2001, having a strong spiritual affinity for John Paul because he too suffered from the disease and suffering worsened symptoms in the weeks after the pope died on April 2, 2005.

The nuns of her community prayed for her, and exactly two months after the pontiff's death, she awoke in the middle of the night cured, she wrote.

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