MY COUSIN THE SAINT
A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Posts Tagged ‘miracles’

A new blessed in the Catholic church

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

The New York Times reports: VATICAN CITY — Lauding John Paul II as a giant of 20th century history as well as a hero of the church, Pope Benedict XVI moved his towering predecessor one step closer to sainthood on Sunday in a celebratory Mass that drew more than a million people to Rome.

Full story here.

If you are visiting my site for the first time, my book gives a full, historical account of the canonization process from my own reporting at the Vatican, as well as Pope John Paul II’s role in changing the canonization process in the early 1980s, and how those church rules applied to my cousin, the saint — whom JPII beatified on May 4, 1997.

Heroic virtue

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

The tenor of the news surrounding the late Pope John Paul II’s beatification in the coming hours has been tilted slightly negatively. Isn’t this process being rushed? Didn’t he fail to confront the pedophile priests in his flock? Wasn’t he dismissive of modernizing the role of women in the church?

One could argue yes, to some degree, in regard to those criticisms. But the conflict-spin on this story misses the larger point — the whole life of John Paul II, a life that can be far more effectively be argued as having been heroically virtuous. That’s the key in this whole march to sainthood. Forget the miracles. That’s an ethereal sideshow. Whether or not you believe in God or Heaven or even the Catholic Church, one simply should not overlook the extraordinary life lived by this pope — beginning with his resistance to Nazism as a young adult right up to the way he dignified old age by living so visibly with Parkinson’s disease. John Paul was, emphatically, one of the most important historical figures of the past century. Believe what you want about this beatification and the motives behind it, but this pope has earned the right to his church’s greatest recognition.

By the way, nearly 17 years ago, on May 4, 1997, Pope John Paul II beatified my favorite saint — Padre Gaetano Catanoso, cousin of my grandfather, and thus, my cousin as well.

Was it a miracle?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

This National Public Radio story — pegged to the late Pope John Paul II’s upcoming beatification — looks at an inexplicable cure in Washington state and whether it should be considered a miracle. Strong detail on the Vatican process for confirming miracles on the road to canonization. And to me, a familiar voice in the story: Father Kurt Peter Gumpel, a senior member of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican. He was a patient and insightful source for me in 2006.

One error in the NPR story as reported: beatification is not the first step toward canonization, it is the next to last step (there are at least three or four prior steps).

A saint from Brooklyn?

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Today’s New York Times:

Brooklyn, the borough of churches and trees, Walt Whitman and Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand and Mike Tyson, has never lacked for people of distinction — except perhaps in one category.

Nobody from Brooklyn has ever been made a saint.

But at a special church service on Thursday night, Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn opened what is known as a “canonical inquiry” into the cause of sainthood for a Brooklyn priest, Msgr. Bernard J. Quinn.

The Saint’s Room

Sunday, July 26th, 2009


Shot in Reggio Calabria, Italy by Michael Frierson, of UNC-Greensboro.

First anniversary

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

One year ago today, My Cousin the Saint was released across the United States and in Canada. It was a pretty thrilling day, and has been a very gratifying year. I’ve had the opportunity to give more than three dozen radio and newspaper interviews, had an op-ed published in the Los Angeles Times, stories published in Catholic and Italian-American magazines and have made more than 60 book talks to groups in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts and in New York City.

And through this web site, I’ve received heartwarming notes from readers across the country (and a few farther than that). The book has even connected me with Catanoso relatives I had never met before in the United States, Argentina and Brazil (Thiago Catanoso of Sao Paolo even visited me in NC last summer!). I am enormously pleased that my story of faith, family and miracles has resonated with so many people.

With the paperback due out in about a month, I am hopeful it reaches even more. Thank you all for reading and being in touch.

Luck or answered prayer?

Monday, April 13th, 2009

A Catholic parish in Vermont proclaims its prayers were answered when brave Captain Richard Phillips was safely retrieved from a dramatic high seas rescue off the coast of Somalia — on Easter Sunday, no less. A doctor in L’Aquilia is left with no other explanation than that God led him to a crumbled building where his 20-year-old son lay injured, but still alive, beneath earthquake rubble. Miracles? Answered prayers? Or it is rather the work of patient, skillful sharpshooters and, in the case in Italy, pure luck? Your faith will determine your answers. Even with a saint in my family, I can’t help but wonder: are prayers really answered so arbitrarily? Was no one praying for the nearly 300 innocent victims who died horrible deaths in last week’s earthquake?

The Saint’s Room

Saturday, April 4th, 2009


In this video, shot in March 2008 in Reggio Calabria, you can see the room in which Padre Gaetano died on April 4, 1963. Of this day, his close friend, Don Basilio Guzzo, said: “That day a light went out, a light that had illuminated the road to the Lord for so many men and women. A star had gone out, too, a star that had shown holiness for years and years.”

Mixed message

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI says he’s praying for the beatification of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. But Monsignor Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, says the next to last step before canonization for JPII is not imminent.

Wondering: doesn’t the former have a bit influence over the latter? Full story here.

Miracles, doctors and the Consulta medica

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today: “Raymond Martin Joson, 81, of Haverford, a pioneering neurosurgeon who consulted with the Roman Catholic Church about medical miracles, died of heart failure Thursday at his Haverford home.” The full obit is here.

What, you may ask, was an esteemed Philly doctor doing getting involved in determining miracles for the Vatican? Well, it’s all part of the process, which I go into detail about in my book. Miracles, I learned, are almost always medically oriented — a healing of some sort. Before the priests in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints determine whether a venerable has been an intercessor for a healing miracle from heaven, doctors take a hard look at the medical records. In this regard, the Vatican has a consulting group of several dozen doctors who make up what’s called, in Italian, the Consulta Medica. The job of the doctors is not to declare a miracle. Rather, they study the medical history and records of a “healed” person to see if there is any medical explanation for the purported cure. If there is, the alleged miracle is tossed. But if a panel of five reviewing doctors agree by at least a 3-2 vote that the cure is “medically inexplicable,” then the case history goes to the priests to determine who was prayed to and if those prayers were answered with a miracle.