the Audrey santo foundation
Michael Dwyer/AP
Bishop Robert J. McManus

Foundation in Massachusetts Seeks Sainthood for Deceased Coma Victim

September 23, 2008 09:47 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Little Audrey Santo Foundation has started a petition for the beatification of a woman who spent most of her life comatose after nearly drowning at age three.

Campaign to Make Massachusetts Girl a Saint

Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts, has granted The Little Audrey Santo Foundation canonical recognition, which means that its members can petition the Vatican to beatify Audrey Santo. Audrey Santo sank into a comatose-like state at age three after nearly drowning in her family swimming pool; she remained in that state for 20 years and died in April 2007.

The Diocese of Worcester was called upon to investigate the stories about Santo, which include reports that she made statues bleed oil and that blood was witnessed on communion wafers five times in her presence. In 1999, the Diocese declared that the events were “deep mysteries” but not full miracles. The clerk of the Santo Foundation, Robert Keane, told the Boston Globe that Santo should be named, “the saint that would show the value of human life in all its forms.”

Normally, a person must be deceased for five years before they can become a saint. Audrey Santo’s advocates hope that permission will be granted to beatify earlier than that. However, before Santo can become a saint, she must be proved to be responsible for two posthumous miracles.

Background: The Audrey Santo Foundation and the Case for Sainthood

According to the Foundation’s official Web site, overmedication at the hospital put Audrey Santo into a three-week coma. She emerged from the coma with akinetic mutism, meaning that she was unable to speak or make significant movements. Although she required significant care, Audrey’s mother kept her sick child at home rather than in an institution. Audrey received visits and well wishes from Catholics everywhere, and garnered a significant amount of attention.

The site says that Santo’s story teaches people that “life is valuable at any level.” A short biography provides the story of her life and instances of the miracles happening around her. Although for the duration of her life, she was only able to eat through a tube, she was able to ingest the Eucharist. The site lists times when the communion host showed blood, and when statues bleed oil. The biography links the timing of events in Audrey’s life with significant historical events, such as the bombing of Nagasaki, and offers these links as additional evidence of Audrey’s holiness.

Related Topic: Achieving Sainthood

In 1997, another sick child in Massachusetts was responsible for the naming of a saint. In Brockton, Massachusetts, the father of Teresia Benedicta, a two-year-old who was dying of a Tylenol overdoes, prayed to deceased nun Edith Stein, known in the Carmelite order as Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. He phoned friends and family, requesting that they also offer prayers to Stein and the little girl recovered from her coma. After thoroughly investigating the medical likelihood of the little girl’s recovery, the Vatican determined that it was a miracle, and that Stein had interceded on her behalf. She became a saint.

Reference: Canonization and Beatification


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