A Catholic cleric martyred by Nazis could be granted sainthood now that a Florida priest claims his prayers to the cleric healed his skin cancer.
Father Michael Driscoll of Boca Raton attributes the miraculous healing of his stage 4 melanoma in 2004 to his prayers to Titus Brandsma, a Dutch Catholic cleric who was murdered by the Nazis during WWII and beatified by the church in 1985, according to Sun Sentinel.
Since the church beatified Brandsma, all that remains for him to be canonized as a saint is for the church to confirm that he performed a miracle, meaning that if Driscoll’s claim is true the church will grant Brandsma official sainthood.
“We hope this could be the one, but there are very exacting standards, and Rome is going to go over this case with a fine-toothed comb,” Carmelite Priest Mario Esposito told Sun Sentinel.
Esposito is promoting the cause of Brandsma’s sainthood. An investigative committee from the Diocese of Palm Beach investigate Driscoll’s claim concerning Brandsma’s miraculous intercession for approximately a year and a half and sent their findings to the Vatican in December. Dianne Laubert, spokesperson for the diocese, told the Sun Sentinel that it could take anywhere from months to years before the Vatican reaches a decision about whether the miracle is truly attributable to Brandsma.
Driscoll, however, has no doubt, and spoke very highly of Brandsma’s legacy of saintly courage and selfless sacrifice.
“He was a brave, bold Dutchman who advocated for the Catholic Church, for freedom of the press, for schools, for an end to the persecution of the Jews,” Driscoll told the Sun Sentinel. “I’ve known about him for 50 years. He was a hero.”
Only 15 to 20 percent of those diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma survive, and the survival rate drops to 10 to 15 percent at 10 years. Surgeons removed an advanced metastatic melanoma that started in his head and spread to his back, as well as 84 lymph nodes and a salivary gland. Driscoll underwent 35 days of radiation after the surgery. He has survived for 14 years. The cancer has not advanced since then.
Dr. Anthony Dardano, associate dean of Florida Atlantic University’s medical school, attested to Driscoll’s miracle and served on the investigative committee for the diocese, for which he sent a medical summary to the Vatican.
“It’s a miracle he survived this,” Dardano told the Sun Sentinel. “His cancer is usually fatal. Is there a scientific explanation for why he’s alive? No.”
The story of Brandsma’s life while he walked the Earth is no less worthy of recognition. Brandsma taught theology at the Catholic University of the Netherlands where, during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, he refused to expel his Jewish students and urged newspapers to refuse to print Nazi propaganda. The Nazis arrested Brandsma in 1942 and sent him to a series of concentration camps where, despite the abuses he suffered, he urged his fellow inmates to pray for the guards. The Nazis executed Brandsma via lethal injection at Dachau. The feared him, calling him a “dangerous little friar.”
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