London, UK - An American clergyman whose recovery from a spinal condition could lead to Cardinal John Henry Newman becoming England’s first non-martyr saint since the Reformation told yesterday of his amazement when his prayers were answered.
Deacon Jack Sullivan, from the US archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, described the moment in 2000 when the “agony” had left him and he had been able to walk, to the “utter amazement” of medical staff, after he prayed to the late Cardinal.
It is understood that the Pope may beatify Cardinal Newman during a visit to Britain being planned for next year. Mr Sullivan, now 71, spoke at the start of a six-day tour of Britain which will include visits to Birmingham and Oxford. The beatification of Cardinal Newman would go ahead as a direct result of his healing.
Preaching at Westminster Cathedral last night he said: “I was tragically afflicted with a serious spinal condition causing intolerable pain with utterly no prospect of relief. One surgeon told me that I was on the brink of complete paralysis.”
He said that he was “completely devastated” when he realised that his medical condition was so serious he could no longer be ordained deacon. “Had God called me this far only to slam the door in my face? I was completely helpless and the situation seemed hopeless. But it was this state of mind that lead me to prayer. I called upon my very special intercessor and faithful friend: ‘Please Cardinal Newman, help me to walk, so that I can return to my classes and be ordained’.
“Suddenly I felt a tremendous sensation of intense heat all over, and a strong tingling feeling throughout my body, both of which lasted for a long time. I also felt an overwhelming sense of joy and peace, as well as a strong sense of confidence and determination that finally I could walk. I immediately exclaimed to the nurse ‘I have no more pain’. Minutes before I was in complete agony. During these precious moments I was totally captivated, totally transfixed by God’s presence. I had utterly no willpower of my own. Then I realised that I could walk, when I couldn’t for months.
“I sprinted out of my room with the nurse tagging behind shouting ‘slow down, slow down!’. Immediately thereafter I was discharged and, to everyone’s astonishment, returned to my classes on time.” The Vatican this year approved his cure as a miracle.
It is possible that the Anglican Ordinariate to be formed in Britain by the Pope for converted Anglicans will be named after Newman, this country’s best-known convert to Rome.
NEW AGE OF MIRACLES
A miracle is deemed to have occurred when doctors can find no scientific or other explanation for a cure
The recipient of a miraculous cure is known in Rome as un miracolato. There is no English equivalent
To become a saint two miracles are needed, one to be beatified and one to be canonised. A quicker but more painful way to sainthood is to be martyred for the faith
The Catholic Church has accepted many miracles based around the Eucharist. One of the most famous occurred at Lanciano, Italy, in AD700, when bread and wine were allegedly turned into human flesh and blood
In the Miracle of Calanda in the 17th century, the amputated leg of a young Spaniard grew back
At Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, many thousands of people apparently saw the Sun dance and spin in the sky
Miracles still occur at Lourdes in France. Many who experience healings there never seek authentication but nearly 70 have been recognised since 1858, when a teenage girl had a vision of Mary in a grotto
The 20th century is referred to by some as the “new age of miracles”. Pope John Paul II alone beatified more than a thousand and canonised more than 400.
Many of these were martyrs but until relatively recently two miracles were required at each stage to become a saint