Miraculously Cured by the Pope?
Parkinson's had all but stolen the spirit of Sister Marie Simon-Pierre by June 2005, when the French nun asked to be relieved of her duties supervising a 40-bed maternity ward in the town of Puyricard. Simon-Pierre had difficulty walking, her body ached and her hands trembled so badly she could no longer write legibly. "I was completely exhausted by the disease," she recalled. Her mother superior suggested that she pray and write the name of the late Pope John Paul II on a slip of paper. She tried, but it was little more than a scrawl.
What happened later that night has changed Sister Marie's life—and could propel her hero John Paul II along the road to sainthood. "It was as if I heard a voice say to me, 'Take your pen and write,'" Sister Marie, 46, told reporters gathered in Aix-en-Provence March 30 to hear her story. To her amazement "the writing was very legible," she said. The next morning the nun says she jumped out of bed: Her Parkinson's had vanished—a mystery confirmed by a local medical team.
On April 2 Simon-Pierre recounted her story to Vatican officials. If her claim can be verified—by theologians, a psychiatrist and doctors who must declare they cannot explain her recovery—Sister Marie's healing will be considered a miracle, a critical step in the process to declare John Paul II a saint. "In order to count, it has to be instantaneous, complete and lasting, not just 'Hey, I feel a little better,'" says John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter.
Even if the nun's claim falters, John Paul II's prospects look good: The Vatican has hundreds of reports of miracles he supposedly performed, and Pope Benedict XVI has made his case a priority. As for Simon-Pierre, now working at a Paris clinic, what happens next is out of her hands. "I was sick and now I am cured," she said. "It is for the church to say whether it is a miracle."
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