Venerable Bishop Frederic Baraga could be one step closer to being named “blessed.” On March 5, the Medical Commission of the Congregation
for the Causes of Saints will meet to review the case of Bishop Baraga’s possible miracle.
“Let us give thanks to God that Bishop Baraga’s cause for sainthood continues to progress,” stated Bishop John Doerfler in regards to the news. “I encourage everyone to pray that God will grant his wisdom and guidance to the medical commission that will be reviewing the possible miracle. May God’s will be done!”
Len McKeen, associate director of the Bishop Baraga Association, said, “It is a joyous time at the Bishop Baraga Association and for the Diocese of Marquette as we patiently await Rome’s decision regarding the current miracle. We have been praying for this for a long time. We ask everyone to join us in prayer for a favorable outcome, which will result in Venerable Bishop Baraga’s beatification, moving the cause one step closer to canonization.”
The possible miracle was investigated for four months by a diocesan tribunal committee in 2011. At the completion of the investigation, documents were signed and sealed on July 17, 2011. Postulator for the cause, Dr. Andrea Ambrosi, delivered the findings of the committee to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The alleged miracle involved a purported tumor on a patient’s liver that had shown up on several diagnostic tests. The patient’s family and their parish priest prayed for healing by invoking the intercession of Venerable Frederic Baraga. A stole belonging to Bishop Baraga was placed on the patient’s abdomen. The patient reported no longer being in pain. Doctors performed exploratory surgery and could find no trace of the tumor.
If the medical commission declares this a miracle, then it will be reviewed by the theological commission, and then the cardinal members of the congregation. If the miracle is ruled favorable in each of those steps, it will go to the Holy Father, and he could then declare Venerable Bishop Baraga to be “blessed.” To be declared a saint by the pope, another miracle would have to occur following the beatification, and also be verified by the Congregation.
Bishop Baraga was named “Venerable” by Pope Benedict XVI on May 10, 2012, declaring that he lived a life a heroic virtue. The cathedral crypt where the first bishop of the diocese was previously interred lacked the space and handicapped accessibility needed to accommodate pilgrims. In October of 2014, the Bishop Baraga Chapel, a side chapel to St. Peter Cathedral, was blessed. The new chapel houses a sarcophagus containing Venerable Bishop Baraga’s remains.
The cause for Venerable Frederic Baraga’s sainthood was opened in 1952. Venerable Frederic Baraga received the title, “Servant of God,” when the Congregation for the Causes of Saints formally admitted his cause for consideration.
Bishop Baraga was born in Slovenia on June 29, 1797. After just seven years as a priest, he came to the United States in 1830 to serve as a missionary to the Odawa and Ojibwa of the Upper Great Lakes. When immigrant miners and families came to Upper Michigan, he also extended his ministry to them.
Baraga was consecrated the first bishop of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and its adjacent islands on November 1, 1853. He died on January 19, 1868 in Marquette.
Prayer for the Cause for Sainthood of Venerable Frederic Baraga:
O God, thank you for the life and holiness of your servant, Frederic Baraga. I pray you will honor him by the title of Saint. He dedicated himself completely to missionary activity to make you known, loved and served by the people whom you love. As a man of peace and love, Baraga brought peace and love wherever he traveled. Lord, grant Venerable Bishop Baraga the grace of beatification. We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.