12 July 1922: An alleged favour through Fr Doyle’s intercession in South Africa

A nun in South Africa wrote the following letter on this day (July 12) in 1922, alleging a favour through Fr Doyle’s intercession:

One of our Community had for some time been seriously ill in a sanatorium. One evening I got a telephone message to say Sister was on the point of death and that the doctor declared there was no hope unless a change took place at once. I called the Community together and we knelt down and asked Fr Doyle to send a change for the better by seven o’clock. It was then 6.30pm. Next day I went to the sanatorium. The infirmarian came out to meet me and her first words were: ‘Sister is out of danger, the change came in time’. I asked at what hour. ‘Seven o’clock last night’, was the reply. I had promised Fr Willie to have Masses said if he got our request granted, and that day i arranged for a number to be said in thanksgiving.

Of course, we do not have the competence to say for certain that this cure was brought about through Fr Doyle’s intercession, much less that it was a miracle. However, it is worth noting that this was a community of nuns praying to him in 1922, less than 5 years after his death, and we know that within 14 years of this death, there were at least 6,426 alleged favours from around the globe reportedly through Fr Doyle’s intercession. Were they all mere coincidences? Were there purely natural explanations for these favours? That is a judgement for others to make. 

But what we can say with certainty is that there was a real and substantial global devotion to Fr Doyle, and that this interest in his life and message is growing again.

Yesterday Pope Francis published new legislation outlining a new path to beatification for those who have made an oblation (or offering) of their lives. There are five conditions:

a) The free and voluntary offering of one’s life, and heroic acceptance propter caritatem of a certain and soon-to-come death;

b) A nexus – i.e. close relation – between the offering of one’s life and the premature death of the one who offers it;

c) The exercise, at least in ordinary degree, of the Christian virtues before the subject’s offering of his or her life and, afterward, perseverance in those virtues unto death;

d) The existence of fama sanctitatis – i.e. the reputation for holiness – on the part of the subject, and of signs [in confirmation thereof], at least after death;

e) The necessity, for beatification, of a miracle, one that occurred after the death of the Servant of God, and by said Servant’s intercession.

Quite a number of these conditions (perhaps only with the exception of [e], as far as I know) would seem on the first analysis to apply to Fr Doyle, though that is obviously a judgement for others to make if the time comes…

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