CNA’s top 10 Catholic stories of 2023

Top stories of 2023 The funeral for Pope Benedict XVI, a statue that survived an earthquake, the remarkably well preserved body of Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, and Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, were among the top Catholic stories of 2023. | Credit: Paul Badde/EWTN; Facebook Antuan Ilgit SJ; Kelsey Wicks/CNA; Pablo Pilco/EWTN News

The year 2023 was filled with highs and lows for the Catholic community. We experienced heartbreak with the passing of Pope Benedict XVI. We felt great joy in seeing hundreds of thousands of young people come together in Lisbon, Portugal, for World Youth Day. And we were reminded of the beauty of the Catholic faith through incredible stories of churches being spared from destruction, potential miracles taking place, and much more.

Here is a list of the top Catholic stories from 2023.

Pope Benedict XVI passes away

The new year began on a somber note with Catholics around the world mourning the loss of Pope Benedict XVI on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2022. In the days that followed, we witnessed thousands visit him in St. Peter’s Basilica where he lay in state, his funeral, the closing of his coffin, and Pope Francis’ final farewell to the former pontiff. 

World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon

An estimated 1.5 million people gathered in Parque Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, for the closing Mass of World Youth Day, where Pope Francis reminded the youth: “Be not afraid.” Throughout the Aug. 1–6 international event, we saw young people from across the globe come together in a celebration of faith, where inspiring conversion stories were shared and even potential miracles took place.

Sister Wilhelmina 

In May, Catholic pilgrims from across the United States began to make their way to a Benedictine monastery in Missouri when news spread that the exhumed body of the order’s African American foundress appeared to be incorrupt. Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, OSB, died in 2019, and when the sisters decided to move her simple, wooden coffin to a final resting place four years later, what they found inside was unbelievable. 

Statue of Mary untouched in Turkey earthquake

On Feb. 6, a powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake shook southeastern Turkey and northwestern Syria. A few hours later, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake hit central Turkey, causing immense damage and a death toll of more than 6,000 people. Despite this tragedy, a statue of the Virgin Mary was left untouched after Annunciation Cathedral in the city of Alexandretta in Turkey completely collapsed. 

Eucharistic procession with Father Mike Schmitz in NYC

A Eucharistic procession brought hundreds to gather in the streets of New York City in October as the Body of Christ was raised above the streets of Manhattan. Father Mike Schmitz, a priest of the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota, and a popular Catholic speaker and podcaster, celebrated Mass before the start of the procession at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and joined dozens of other priests in the solemn procession immediately following the Mass. 

More in US

Possible Eucharistic miracle at Connecticut church

A local Connecticut television station reported that the Archdiocese of Hartford is investigating a possible Eucharistic miracle in which a Eucharistic minister saw more hosts appear in the ciborium after almost running out during a Mass at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Thomaston.

Maui fire

This year saw one of the deadliest wildfires in the U.S. hit Maui, Hawaii. More than 90 people were killed and towns were left destroyed by the fast-moving flames. However, a sign of hope appeared when Maria Lanakila Catholic Church in Lahaina was spared from destruction. Monsignor Terrence Watanabe called it “a miracle.”

‘Sound of Freedom’

A movie starring Catholic actor Jim Caviezel and made by Catholic filmmakers Eduardo Verastegui and Alejandro Monteverde took the entertainment industry by storm. 

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Sound of Freedom,” which tells the true story of Homeland Security Agent Tim Ballard and his work saving children from human trafficking, made history at the box office and beat out several other expected summer hits. 

Sister Lucia’s sainthood advances

Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of Sister Lucia dos Santos, the eldest child to witness the Fatima apparitions. In a decree signed on June 22, the pope recognized Lucia’s heroic virtue and declared her “venerable.” The Church will now need to approve a miracle attributed to her intercession before she can be beatified.

Sister Andre dies at 118

Sister Andre Randon, a French nun who was the oldest person in the world at the time, passed away at the age of 118 on Jan. 17. Born Lucile Randon on Feb. 11, 1904, in Alés, France, she converted from Protestantism to Catholicism when she was 19. At the age of 40 she joined the Daughters of Charity — founded by St. Vincent de Paul — in 1944.

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