April 8, 2002
Catholic University sophomore Nina Caccioppoli will travel with her family to the Vatican to witness the April 14 beatification of Gaetano Errico, which will declare the 18th century Italian priest “blessed” and move him closer to canonization. The trip is a chance for Ms. Caccioppoli to see how her family has played a role in the beatification and canonization process that often leads to sainthood; her grandparents received a miracle in 1952 that was later attributed to Gaetano Errico (1791-1860) of Naples, who founded the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
“This is a major milestone on his road to canonization,” said the Rev. Neil Roy, an assistant professor of theology at CUA and expert on saints and the beatification process. Pope John Paul II has elevated more than 450 Catholics to sainthood during his 23-year pontificate, a larger number than any other pope.
“This is something our family has been pushing for, ” Ms. Caccioppoli said. “I know it's something my father has always pursued and wanted to happen, so it's really special for us and our relatives in Italy who will be at the ceremony. ”
The pope signed a final decree last April recognizing the miracle that occurred in Castellammare di Stabia, Italy, on Jan. 9, 1952, in which Ms. Caccioppoli’s grandfather, Salvatore Caccioppoli, miraculously recovered from a perforated stomach ulcer.
Mr. Caccioppoli had been complaining of severe stomach pain that day, and when a physician and surgeon examined him, they found the perforation. They wanted to operate immediately, but before Mr. Caccioppoli was to be taken to the hospital, his wife, Gaetana, remembered she had a relic of Errico and placed it to her husband’s lips as they both prayed to him for help. Almost immediately, Mr. Caccioppoli felt better and asked not to be taken to the hospital. An X-ray taken two months later found the ulcer that was clearly visible in previous X-rays had disappeared. He fully recovered and died of natural causes 30 years later.
In October 1999, the theologians and physicians of the Archdiocesan Tribunal in Italy confirmed the miracle, and the Assembly of Cardinals and Bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved their findings in January 2001.
Father Roy says that when the pope beatifies Errico, the Italian priest will be declared “blessed.” A draped image of Errico suspended from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica will most likely be present at the beatification; when the pope pronounces Errico blessed, the pope will remove the drape to signify the first time Errico will be venerated publicly by the Church.
Errico also will then be granted a place in the Roman Martyrology, a liturgical catalog of Catholic saints and martyrs arranged by the dates of their feasts.
Ms. Caccioppoli, of Lawton, Okla., is available for interviews before she leaves for Italy the weekend of April 13. Reporters who wish to speak with her should call Chris Harrison or Janelle Cowgill at 202-319-5600. Father Roy also is available for interviews about beatification, canonization and sainthood and can be reached at 202-319-6516.
Revised: Feb. 18, 2002
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