In Annapolis, a miracle worthy of sainthood?
Woman's cancer vanishes after prayers to 19th-century Maryland priest
Mary Ellen Heibel, a parishioner at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Annapolis, wears a charm bearing a tiny bone fragment from Francis X. Seelos, the priest to whom she turned in prayer when she learned that she had terminal cancer. (Baltimore Sun photo by Karl Merton Ferron / June 24, 2009)
The treatment for terminal cancer that Annapolis resident Mary Ellen Heibel took at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2004 and early 2005 worked beyond anyone's wildest hopes, wiping out malignant tumors in her lungs, liver, stomach and chest. Her doctor did not expect it, nor could he explain it.
Surely the outcome was remarkable, but was it - in the sense applied by the Roman Catholic Church in such cases - a miracle?
In a few weeks, a committee appointed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore will begin exploring that question, examining 11 witnesses, including Heibel, pressing her doctors, nurses and friends in an attempt to understand what happened. The findings gathered at the archdiocese's downtown offices will be shipped to Rome, and ultimately will bear on a campaign to have Francis X. Seelos, the 19th-century Maryland priest to whom Heibel had turned in prayer for help, canonized as a saint.
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