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The saints go marchin' in


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On May 10, the Vatican proclaimed the heroic virtue of two Americans: Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich (1901-1927) from Bayonne, N.J., and Bishop Frederic Baraga (1797-1868) of Marquette, Mich. These two new "venerables" now each need an approved miracle to be proclaimed "blessed," and then another fresh one to be proclaimed "saint." While in a future column I hope to write about Bishop Baraga, for now I want to concentrate on Sister Miriam Teresa, the closer to us in time and space.

Sister Miriam Teresa died at the young age of 26, and lived her life entirely between Bayonne and Elizabeth, N.J. The daughter of immigrants from Slovakia, she was an Eastern-rite Catholic who entered the Sisters of Charity at age 24. A novice contemplative in an active religious order, she ghost-wrote a series of spiritual conferences for the nuns, given by her spiritual director, a Benedictine priest. In some ways, she is an American Little Flower, also named Teresa, given to mystical experiences, and dying at a young age. St. Therese of Lisieux was canonized in May, 1925, just two years before Sister Miriam Teresa died.

After her death, her brother, who was a priest, edited and published her conferences in a book entitled "Greater Perfection," revealing for the first time that she was indeed the author. Here's a sample:

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