Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beatification Cause for Founder of Mary’s House at Ephesus to Begin in Kansas City

SrMarie016 The cause for the beatification and canonization of the French Daughter of Charity regarded by the Church as the Founder of Mary’s House at Ephesus will open in Kansas City, January 21. In the words of one of Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey’s biographers, Mary’s House is a remarkable place where Muslims, Orthodox and Catholics “all join together in the home of a Jewish Mother.”

Mary’s House was discovered in 1891 on a mountain near Ephesus based on descriptions of the place from the visions of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich. It is believed to be the place where Mary lived with St. John after the death and resurrection of her Son and the place of her Assumption. The home has been visited by Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. A remarkable aspect of the home is that it is a place of pilgrimage for not only Catholics and Orthodox, but for Muslims as well, who revere the Mother of Jesus.

Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey was of noble French birth. As a Daughter of Charity, she worked in orphanages in France. In 1886, she moved to work at a French hospital in Smyrna, Turkey and used her own funds to refurbish the hospital and establish a school for girls. Though Sister Marie lived her life under a vow of poverty, she was allowed, with permission, to use her family’s wealth for apostolic works.

Sister Marie had read Emmerich’s description of the life of Mary and was convinced Mary’s home was to be found in Ephesus, per Emmerich’s vision. Sister Marie encouraged some local priests to read the visions of Emmerich and based on these the house was found in 1891. In 1892, Sister Marie purchased the property and began restoring it and in 1914 Pope St. Pius X granted an indulgence to those who visit the house. A permanent indulgence was later granted by Blessed Pope John XXIII.

So what does this all have to do with Kansas City? Read Bishop Finn’s column below from this week’s edition of The Catholic Key. You may also be interested in a biography of Sister Marie (pdf) and Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s fascinating essay, Mary and the Moslems. A prayer card for Sister Marie follows Bishop Finn’s column:

Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey:
Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese Studies Her Life and Work

By Most Rev. Robert W. Finn

Many times I have said that our goal in this life is to get to heaven and bring as many others with us as we can. This month of All Saints and All Souls helps us to focus on the holy and faithful people who have gone before us.

I felt very privileged recently when our Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was asked to participate in a Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of a woman who died almost 100 years ago half way around the world! It occasionally happens that a diocesan bishop may be expected to participate in the Cause of a holy man or woman who lived or died in the bishop’s local diocese. Today I want to tell you about an extraordinary woman who never visited Kansas City, or the United States. Soon she will come to be better known here in Missouri. Her name was Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent DePaul. The Daughters of Charity have been an important part of the history of our diocese in both St. Joseph and Kansas City.

Who is Sr. Marie de Mandat-Grancey?

Sr. Marie was born of nobility in France in 1837. She joined the Daughters of Charity in 1858. She was professed in 1862. She died in Smyrna, Turkey in 1915. Sr. Marie was a devout Religious who gave up her status and wealth to care for the poor. She served as a nurse in France. In 1886, she was assigned to the French Naval Hospital at Smyrna. She became superior of the house and was dedicated to the care of the sick and children. During the time Sr. Marie served in Turkey, she was instrumental in identifying and procuring the House of Mary in Ephesus. Mary’s Home at Ephesus has become a place of pilgrimage for millions of people every year, the majority of whom are Muslims. Pope’s Benedict XVI, John Paul II, and Paul VI, have all celebrated Mass there. The process of the cause would attempt to investigate the heroic sanctity of Sr. Marie, and present this for consideration by the Church.

Why is this cause being considered in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph?

About two years ago I participated in a pilgrimage to Meryem Ana Evi, or “Mary’s House” in Ephesus, Turkey. I traveled with faithful from Kansas City and various places in the U.S. During that visit I met Mrs. Erin Von Uffel of New York, who had studied the life of Sr. Marie and had worked with the Archbishop Emeritus of Smyrna (modern day Izmir), Most Reverend Giuseppe Bernardini, to research the life and work of Sr. Marie. While I was in Turkey, I met with Erin and the current Archbishop of Izmir, Ruggero Franceschini. In this meeting Erin encouraged the Archbishop to promote Sr. Marie’s cause. In February of 2010, I was formally petitioned by Archbishop Franceschini to assist with the cause, given the insufficient personnel and other resources of the Archdiocese in Turkey. After a series of discussions and prayerful considerations, I requested, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph was granted, jurisdiction by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for this initiative.

How will the process take place?

After having received the support of our neighboring bishops in Missouri and Kansas, the Superior General of the Daughters of Charity, the Archbishop of Dijon, France, where Sr. Marie was born, and the Presbyteral Council of our Diocese, I nominated a postulator and formally requested permission to “open the cause.” Dr. Andrea Ambrosi of Rome is the postulator, the person who will oversee the whole process and bring the case before the Vatican, and has worked on many such causes. He explains that, “a beatification cause involves a years-long process of examination of the candidate’s life, virtues, writings, reputation for holiness, and reputation for intercession.” When a candidate’s cause is opened, that person is called a Servant of God. After the Servant of God’s heroic virtue has been proven, he or she is declared “venerable.” Then, to be beatified, one miracle must be attributed to the Venerable’s intercession. Finally, a second miracle is needed for canonization. Dr. Ambrosi said, “The Church’s criteria for accepting a miracle are very rigorous.”

When will the Process begin?

Although much work has been going on to gather archival materials, and assign responsibilities for the work of the cause, the first step of the process will be the solemn opening. The opening of the cause for Sr. Marie is now scheduled for Friday evening, January 21, 2011, at 6:00 p.m. in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Kansas City. Everyone is invited to attend this historic event. A number of the family members of Sr. Marie have been invited. As the local bishop I will receive the oaths of the postulator, the members of the Tribunal who will gather all the materials, and the Historical and Theological Commissions who will help in evaluating the materials.

Sr. Marie seems to have been a holy woman who lived her life humbly in God’s service. Please pray for God’s blessing on our work. A prayer that was written a number of years ago in thanksgiving to God for Sr. Marie is provided here.

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