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Miracle identification could mean MacKillop sainthood

It has been suggested that Blessed Mary MacKillop could in fact be responsible for a "miracle of modern medicine" involving a girl injured last year when a car crashed into a Sydney kindergarden.

The Sydney Morning Herald today reports the comments of the parents of Sophie Martin that although they were immensely grateful to surgeons and other hospital staff who had a hand in their three-year-old daughter's recovery, there were "numerous signs a greater force was at work".

Gravely injured when a car crashed through the front of her Fairlight preschool in December, Sophie battled through five months in hospital afterwards. She required skin grafts to treat third-degree burns to more than 85% of her body, lost her feet, fingers and an ear in the accident, and will spend years recovering partial mobility.

Each time her daughter Sophie was wheeled into theatre for one of countless lifesaving operations, Carolyn Martin undertook a simple ritual that she believes saved the girl's life. Supported by Josephites at Mary MacKillop Chapel in North Sydney, she would prevail upon Blessed Mary MacKillop to decide the outcome of the surgery.

"They came up and prayed for Sophie before she went into her theatre, because we knew every time she went in she may not come back," Ms Martin said.

"I would say, Sophie, if this fight gets too hard it's OK, because Mary MacKillop's with you and she's holding your hand, and she will be with you for all your life, whether it's here or somewhere else."

Sr Monica Cavanagh RSJ, a member of the team processing the canonisation, agreed that Sophie's case might be one of several used as evidence of a miracle.

But the postulator, or principal proponent of her canonisation, Fr Paul Gardiner SJ, who also helped build the case for her beatification, said satisfying the Vatican's rules of evidence for canonisation was a rigorous process involving an admission by doctors that based on their present medical knowledge her survival could not be explained.

Fr Gardiner said he had not been approached to investigate Sophie's case, and the inquiry could take years, although "sometimes it can be so clear". The investigation takes the form of a tribunal set up under the auspices of the Archbishop of Sydney, George Pell, that can call witnesses.

Sophie's miracle could mean Mother Mary's sainthood (Sydney Morning Herald 5/7/04)

MacKillop saintmaker calls doctor miracle denial "unscientific" (CathNews 27/11/03)
Blessed Mary MacKillop
Conversation: Fr Paul Gardiner, postulator for the cause of Blessed Mary MacKillop - Lack of 'miracle culture' delays Mary's sainthood (Catholic Weekly 16/11/03)
Teresa's in line, but Mary may need miracle (Sydney Morning Herald 27/10/03)
Boy's cancer cure could be MacKillop's required second miracle (22/9/03)

5 Jul 2004