Residents of Dublin 4 and Donnybrook in particular may be unaware that someone on the road to sainthood is amongst us. No, Bono hasn’t moved in to the area, it’s Mary Aikenhead, above, or to apply her brand new title, The Venerable Mary Aikenhead.
18th March 2015 saw the decree issued from Rome, and she is now at the second stage in a process not unlike X Factor whereby a panel of priest judges in Rome look at her works and decide if she should move on to the next round.
Usually, the process of recognizing a saint starts around five years after a person’s death. The potential saint’s pastor presents the case to the bishop. The specific stages met on the path to being declared a saint are:
* Servant of God: As soon as the person is accepted for consideration, she’s called a Servant of God.
* Venerable: After the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints determines that the servant of God lived a life of heroic virtue, she is granted the title of venerable. Heroic virtue doesn’t mean a person was perfect or sinless, but that she worked aggressively to improve herself spiritually and never gave up trying to be better and grow in holiness.
* Blessed: After the Church establishes one miracle, the venerable person’s cause is presented to the Pope to see whether he deems her worthy of being called blessed. This step is called beatification and is the next-to-last step.
* *Saint: Another miracle and the blessed person’s cause is presented to the Pope again for his judgment. If he determines that the evidence is clear and that contrary reports aren’t credible, he may initiate the canonization procedure. If all goes well, the candidate is publicly recognized as a saint.
Mary is certainly someone who would seem to fit the bill for sainthood, having devoted her life to working with the poor, plague victims in 1832 and died aged 71 having set up the Religious Sisters of Charity in Ireland, an order with 10 institutions at the time of her death, besides innumerable missions and branches of charitable work.
Her very impressive tomb is situated in the cemetery attached to St. Mary Magdalen’s, Donnybrook, and is well worth a look. It is heavily fortified with a stainless steel door and inch-thick security glass. This is due to saints’ bones in Ireland being a little like rhino horn in China, having as they do powers to heal the sick and grant wishes. NewsFour will keep you posted on her progress to the next heat, beatification.
By Steve Kingston