Pope John XXIII, who in 1962 convened the Second Vatican Council that vastly changed the Roman Catholic Church, and Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress turned Catholic nun, each moved a step closer to sainthood Thursday.
In decrees issued by the Vatican, Pope John Paul II recognized as miraculous the recovery of a young Italian nun whose severe stomach bleeding and infection was cured after other nuns put an image of John XXIII on her stomach, and the restoration of hearing to a 7-year-old Pennsylvania girl whose mother prayed to Drexel.
The church requires that two miracles be officially recognized before a person can be declared a saint.
The miracle attributed to Drexel, known as Mother Katharine, is the second attributed to the nun, who gave up a privileged life at the turn of the century for a vow of poverty. Although several other steps are necessary before she can be declared a saint, the attribution of miracles is the most difficult, and Vatican officials expect Drexel to be canonized within months. She would be only the second native-born American to be canonized.
The curing of the Italian nun is the first miracle the church has attributed to John XXIII, and as a result he is expected to be beatified--the first step toward sainthood--later this year.