Following a four-month investigation, the Diocese of Marquette has closed its inquiry into an alleged miracle attributed to its first bishop, Servant of God Frederic Baraga, who is known as the “snowshoe priest.” The inquiry now proceeds to the Vatican for further consideration.
The alleged miracle concerns a reputed tumor found on a patient’s liver in various diagnostic tests. The patient, the patient’s family and their parish priest prayed for healing through the intercession of Bishop Baraga. Bishop Baraga’s stole was also placed on the patient’s abdomen, after which the patient’s pain ceased.
An exploratory surgery by doctors found no tumor, according to the diocese.
Bishop Baraga was born in Slovenia in 1797. He came to the United States in 1830 as a missionary to the Odawa and Ojibwa tribes of the upper Great Lakes region, traveling through the vast territory by canoe, boat, horse, snowshoes and dog sled. His Ojibwa-English dictionary is still in use today.
Consecrated a bishop in 1853, he served as the Bishop of Sault Ste. Marie, which would later be called the Diocese of Marquette. He died in 1868. The Bishop Baraga Association was established in 1930 to promote his cause for sainthood, which was officially opened in 1952.
The tribunal investigating the bishop’s alleged miracle collected medical documentation and interviewed witnesses, including doctors and medical personnel involved in the treatment.
The diocesan inquiry closed with a July 17 ceremony at St. Peter Cathedral in Marquette. Members of the canonical tribunal which examined the possible miracle signed papers attesting to their work and verifying the authenticity of the documents.
Further inquiry at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints will examine the tribunal’s work, determine whether the event cannot be explained by science and whether it could be attributed to the intercession of Bishop Baraga. After reviewing a document detailing the bishop’s life and virtues, the congregation will then advise Pope Benedict about the cause.
The Pope will decide whether to bestow the title “Venerable” on Bishop Baraga, the Diocese of Marquette reports. If the miracle is verified and attributed to the bishop, the Pope will decide whether to beatify him. Another recognized miracle would be necessary for Bishop Baraga’s canonization.
The postulator of Bishop Baraga’s cause is Dr. Andrea Ambrosi of Rome.