New Jersey Nun To Be Beatified for "Curing" Blindness, and The Next Step Is Sainthood

On Saturday, a long-dead New Jersey nun who "cured" a boy's blindness was beatified in Newark; now, she's only one step away from literal sainthood. It really is as big a deal as it sounds: beatification is the third out of the four steps required in order to be recognized as a saint — to get there requires evidence, holiness and, of course, a couple of miracles.

If you're wondering, here's how you hop on the sainthood bandwagon: first, you have to be recognized for your “heroic virtue,” the evidence of which has to be evaluated by a bishop and presented to church authorities. If all goes well, you become a Servant of God. Then, you need to be venerated; this happens when the Pope and the Congregation for Cause of Saints back the others in thinking that yah, you've been pretty holy and virtuous. Beatification comes after this, when it's been proven that you've also performed a miracle posthumously.

So here's the miraculous story of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich: A Bayonne, New Jersey, native, she died of appendicitis back in 1927 at the tender age of 26. Almost forty years later, in 1964, a young boy from Teaneck was diagnosed with macular degeneration — he was told that there was no cure for his illness, and that he would soon go blind. According to the New York Times, soon after, his teacher gave him a lock of Sister Miriam Teresa's hair and told the boy to pray — and so he did. Six weeks later, he was cured.

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“His sight was restored completely to 20/20 vision," Sister Kathleen Flanagan of the Sisters of Charity said to 1010 WINS. Not only is the boy, Michael Mencer — now a 58-year-old man — still able to see, he even took part in the beatification ceremony on Saturday. The mass (the first of its kind to be performed on U.S. soil) was held at Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and drew hundreds of people, both from within the clergy and without.

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And here's what's doubly miraculous about Sister Miriam Teresa's story, though: the fact that it was discovered in the first place. A few years after the boy's recovery, his mother, Barbara Mencer, wrote a letter to a priest to tell him all about the miracle, but it was lost between two other files — it took over twenty years for it to be found again. It was only after that was found by chance,, in 1998, that Sister Miriam Teresa was put on the path to halo-wearing.

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Still, it might not be quite enough to make Sister Miriam Teresa into a saint; that requires not one, but two, clear, evidence-backed miracles. But, you know, one miracle still ain't half bad.

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