Pope Francis says Mother Angelica was 'a holy woman'

Memorial Mass  6 for Mother Angelica at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel on March 30 2016 Credit EWTN CNA 3 30 16 Mother Angelica's body at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel shortly before her Memorial Mass, March 30, 2016. | EWTN.

After speaking to Catholic News Agency about how he recently helped his elderly mother to meet Pope Francis, Msgr. Anthony Figueiredo was able to show the Pope himself a few clips of the interview.

Francis' response after seeing the video? "He was visibly happy and asked who did it," Msgr. Figueiredo told CNA July 2, adding that when he told the Pope it was EWTN, Francis immediately replied, "Mother Angelica. A holy woman."

The snippets shown to the Pope portray both he and Msgr. Figuieredo looking at photos beside the latter's mother, Sarah, as well as a scene where she walks away from the camera "as if the happiest creature on earth," the priest said.

Sarah rejected her doctor's push for an abortion when she found out that her son would have a crippled arm due to adverse effects of thalidomide, a sleeping pill commonly prescribed to expectant mothers after WWII to help with morning sickness.

Msgr. Figuieredo, 52, was ordained in 1994 and now serves as a spiritual director to hundreds of seminarians studying at Rome's Pontifical North American College, advises cardinals on their writing and speeches, and works closely with the Pope.

He has also met Mother Theresa and was able to work as a personal assistant to St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI for several years.

Pope Francis, who knows Msgr. Figuieredo, had personally requested to meet the priest's mother when she came to visit him during the June 1-3 Jubilee for Priests. As a result, the three of them met at the Pope's residence the morning of June 3.

However, it wasn't until few weeks after the meeting took place Msgr. Figuieredo saw Pope Francis again July 2, and had the opportunity to show him some of the "beautiful clips."

While Pope Francis was clearly pleased, his comments after seeing the video wasn't the first time he's expressed his confidence in Mother Angelica's holiness.

The nun founded the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) in 1981, and it has since become the largest religious media network in the world. She passed away March 27 after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years old.

Three days after her death, members of EWTN's Rome bureau brought an image of the late Poor Clare nun to Francis' March 30 general audience as a sign of affection and remembrance. When the Pope saw the photo, he blessed it, pointed to the sky and said "she's in heaven."

While on board the plane taking him to Cuba and Mexico in February, the Pope offered a special airborne blessing to the nun.

As he made his way down the line of the 76 international journalists on board the Feb. 12 flight, Pope Francis paused to record a brief, 20 second video for her when asked by CNA/EWTN News Rome Bureau Chief Alan Holdren, due to the nun's declining health.

In the video, the Pope, speaking in English, said "To Mother Angelica with my blessing. And I ask you to pray for me, I need it. God bless you Mother Angelica!"

Another sign Pope Francis's admiration for Mother Angelica is that while he has gained a reputation for his numerous interviews as pontiff, he was known for his aversion to speaking to the media during his time as a cardinal and archbishop.

He made few exceptions, one of them being for EWTN's Spanish channel, EWTN Español, leading into the 2012-2013 Year of Faith.

In the interview, the then-Cardinal Bergoglio spoke about the significance of the Year of Faith, the gift of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, and the importance of Latin America in the life of the Church.

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