Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre allegedly cured by pope
PARIS – She is a simple nun with an “incredible” story – and now she is preparing to tell it to the world.Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre has been identified as the long-mysterious nun whose claim that she was cured of Parkinson’s disease could prompt the Roman Catholic Church to beatify Pope John Paul II.Described as a gentle, reserved woman who had hoped to keep her identity under wraps, the limelight could come as a shock. The nun is expected to speak at a news conference Friday about how she inexplicably recovered from Parkinson’s after she and her community of nuns prayed to John Paul.”She doesn’t want to play the star,” said the Rev. Robert Aliger, who knows her. “She is a very simple, very ordinary person who is, I think, deeply moved by what happened to her.”Le Figaro first identified her Wednesday, and Aliger confirmed the report. Her secret had been well kept: The priest of the church next to the Paris maternity hospital where the nun worked said he knew who she was but hadn’t realized that she was so special.”I knew that cures existed but it is a surprise to see that it was so close to home,” said the Rev. Jean-Pierre Caveau.Only one document about the nun’s experience has been made public: an article she wrote for “Totus Tuus,” the official magazine of John Paul’s beatification case.She wrote of being diagnosed with Parkinson’s in June 2001, having a strong spiritual affinity for John Paul because he too suffered from the disease and she suffered worsened symptoms in the weeks after the pope died on April 2, 2005.The nuns of her community prayed for her, and exactly two months after John Paul’s death, she awoke in the middle of the night cured, she wrote. The nun is a member of the “Little Sisters of Catholic Maternities,” and was serving at the time at a maternity clinic near Aix-en-Provence, in southeastern France.Aix’s archbishop, Monsignor Claude Feidt, opened an investigation. It lasted a year and finished last week. In a statement, the bishop said his diocese had kept it secret out of respect for the nun’s privacy and to avoid disturbing the investigation.Medical records, blood test results, X-rays and doctors were consulted “so that the bishop can present a solid dossier in Rome,” said Aliger, a spokesman for the diocese. The Vatican requires medical evidence when examining a purported miracle to determine there was no medical explanation for the reported cure.”It’s a voluminous dossier,” Aliger said. “There are five boxes – I saw them – of originals and a big box of X-rays.”The nun “had tears in her eyes” at the closing session of the investigation, he added.The nun also underwent psychiatric evaluation and had her handwriting analyzed, since a change in handwriting is a classic symptom of Parkinson’s disease, the Rome-based cleric spearheading her cause, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, said this week.Normally, psychiatric evaluations are not typical for church investigations into purported miracles, but Oder said church officials wanted to be particularly sure in this case and that the results were “very reassuring.””All those that knew her before and after see clearly that she is cured,” Aliger said in a telephone interview.They don’t use the word “miracle,” because that is for Rome to decide whether the cure counts as one, he said.”We simply say, ‘She was sick. Now she is cured. And here is the proof we have that it was not a fake illness and that it is not a fake recovery, either,”‘ he said. “It’s incredible.”The nun is expected to travel to Rome for ceremonies marking the second anniversary of the pontiff’s death and the closure of a church investigation into his life. Pope Benedict XVI waived the customary five-year waiting period for the procedure to begin, clearly in response to popular demand that began with chants of “Santo subito!” or “Sainthood now!” erupting during John Paul’s funeral.The Vatican’s saint-making process requires that John Paul’s life and writings be studied for its virtues. The Vatican also requires that a miracle attributed to his intercession be confirmed, before he can be beatified – the last formal step before possible sainthood.There is still no word on when any beatification or canonization might occur.—Associated Press writer Jenny Barchfield in Paris and Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.