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Padre Pio's canonisation within sight?

The Holy See might officially recognise a miracle attributed to Padre Pio before the end of the year, opening the way for his canonisation in 2002.

A commission of doctors and scientists is now probing the scientifically inexplicable cure of 7-year-old Matteo Pio Colella, according to the Italian magazine Famiglia Cristiana.

If the judgment is positive, the case will be studied further by a commission of theologians, and later by a panel of cardinals and bishops.

The Capuchin postulators of the cause hope that if all judgments are positive, John Paul II might canonise the friar of the stigmata next year.

On the night of 20 June last year, meningitis victim Matteo Colella was given up for dead in in the intensive care unit of the House of Relief hospital. But doctors were startled with the child's condition improved during a prayer vigil attended by Matteo's mother and some Capuchin friars of Padre Pio's monastery. When he awoke from the coma, Matteo said that he had seen an elderly man with a white beard and a long, brown habit, who said to him: "Don't worry, you will soon be cured."

Padre Pio was ordained a Capuchin priest in 1910, ad in 1918 received the stigmata of Christ's passion. He died in 1968 and was beatified in 1999.