Pope Francis on Saturday advanced Robert Schuman’s cause for sainthood, authorizing a decree of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognizing the French statesman’s heroic virtues.
Born in Luxembourg in 1886, Schuman became a French citizen in 1919 and immediately involved himself in politics. He served in various French governments, rising to prominence following the Second World War; in 1947, he became Prime Minister for the first time. In the aftermath of war, he pursued a pro-European policy that ultimately led to the Council of Europe and the European Community single market. In 1958 he became the first President of the European Parliamentary Assembly, which acclaimed him “Father of Europe.”
Schuman’s Christian Democrat politics were informed by his Catholic faith, and he was an expert in medieval philosophy, especially the work of St Thomas Aquinas. He died in Scy-Chazelles, France, in 1963.
A miracle for German Jesuit Johann Philipp Jeningen
Saturday’s decree also marked progress for a number of other canonization causes, including that of Johann Philipp Jeningen, a German Jesuit priest originally from Eichstätt, Bavaria. A successful popular preacher, Venerable Johann Philipp served at the shrine of Our Lady of Schönenberg, near Ellwangen in Swabia. He is remembered as the “Apostle of Ries.” The decree confirmed a miracle attributed to Venerable Johann Philipp’s intercession, clearing the way for his beatification.
Rome also recognized the martyrdom of nine Polish nuns and one German nun, all killed in odium fidei by the advancing Russian Red Army at the end of World War II. The martyrs, all members of the Congregation of Sisters of St Elizabeth, were killed by soldiers of the Communist army in various places in Poland between February and May 1945, while carrying out their ministry to the sick and elderly. One of the sisters was repeatedly violated by as many as thirty soldiers before being killed. “Indoctrinated with an atheist and Marxist culture” says an article by Vatican News, “[the Russian soldiers] used rape as a weapon humiliation against those wearing the religious habit.” The nuns all continued their mission at the side of their people, despite the risks from the advancing soldiers. The faithful immediately recognized them as martyrs after their deaths, and the tombs of the nuns are visited by the faithful to the present day.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints also recognized the heroic virtues of Severino Fabriani, a diocesan priest, who, having lost his voice for several years due to an illness, became the founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Providence for the Deaf and Dumb.
Three religious sisters also saw their heroic virtues recognized. Aniela Róża Godecka, born in 1861, in Russia, is regarded as the foundress of the Polish Congregation of Little Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, dedicated to helping poor factory workers. Italian sister Orsola Donati, a religious of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows guided her community for 65 years, establishing numerous daughter houses. Finally, Sister Maria Stella of Jesus, a professed sister of the Congregation of Religious of Mary Immaculate, who lived out her religious vocation in Cordoba, Almeria, and Granada, Spain, was also recognized for her heroic virtue.