Early Champion of Women’s Rights to Be Canonized October 21

A heroic Spanish nun who fought for women’s rights long before it was fashionable will be declared a saint on October 21, 2012 after the Vatican approved the miraculous healing of a three year-old Brazilian girl who was suffering from a brain condition.

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) is reporting that the Church will celebrate the canonization of Sister Carmen Salles y Barangueras this fall after three year-old Maria Isabel Gomes de Melo Gardelli was declared to have been miraculously healed of acute cerebral ischaemia which left her with paralysis and facial deformities.

The healing occurred in Sao Paolo in 1999 when all treatment options were exhausted and her parents, who were both doctors, brought the little girl home to die. The family and little Maria’s classmates began a novena to Sister Carmen Salles for a miraculous cure which occurred on the fifth day of the prayer.

Doctors remained skeptical of her cure and said she was at serious risk of epilepsy and other secondary illnesses. However, she has undergone 27 different medical examinations and no long-term effects have been reported. Maria is now 15, is reportedly a brilliant student and has been offered a career in modeling.

The postulator for Sister Carmen’s cause for canonization, Mother Maria Asuncion Valls Salip, told CNA “There is no doubt this is a miracle.”

Maria Isabel then and now - aciprensa.com

In fact, CAT scans clearly show the scars that remain on her brain from the condition, which Mother Valls says demonstrates the miraculous nature of her recovery.

Perhaps even more miraculous is the life of Carmen Salles, who was born April 9, 1848, in Vic, Spain. Raised by devout Catholic parents, the second of 10 children, she grew up with a strong devotion of Our Lady.  The year of 1858 was a Marian year and proved to be a pivotal time in Carmen’s life. It was the same year that Mary appeared in Lourdes to Bernadette and confirmed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. That year, Carmen went to Montserrat on pilgrimage with her family where she received her First Communion and vowed to give her life to Jesus. It was on this visit that she knelt at Mary’s feet and consecrated her life to Jesus through Mary.

Carmen was convinced of her vocation and convinced her parents to break her engagement to a young Spaniard and allow her to enter the Adores Sisters. These sisters were dedicated to the recovery of women who were living on the margins after a life of crime or prostitution. She dedicated the next 22 years of her life to educating these women so they could get out of the sex life and achieve a dignified place in society, which involved running day schools for the children of working mothers, and night schools for the mothers.

Sister Carmen eventually founded a new order, the Missionary Conceptionists of Hope, and became a well-known pioneer in proclaiming equality between men and women and in defending the dignity of women in the home and in society at large.

Carmen died in Madrid at the age of 63, on July 25, 1911. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 15, 1998, and her canonization has been set for October 21, 2012.

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