MY COUSIN THE SAINT
A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Archive for March, 2009

A star and her saint

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

An Italian web site reports: “Sophia Loren has lent her weight to the cause of Pope John Paul II reaching sainthood. The screen star has written to the Vatican official who is putting the case for the late pope’s beatification, one step from sainthood, Italian magazine Chi reports in an edition out Wednesday. ‘The memory of John Paul II is jealously guarded in my heart,’ says the 74-year-old screen icon. ‘It is a daily memory,’ she says, adding that she prayed at the pope’s tomb ‘to bear witness to my great admiration and devotion.’”

The whole story is here.

Miracles, doctors and the Consulta medica

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported today: “Raymond Martin Joson, 81, of Haverford, a pioneering neurosurgeon who consulted with the Roman Catholic Church about medical miracles, died of heart failure Thursday at his Haverford home.” The full obit is here.

What, you may ask, was an esteemed Philly doctor doing getting involved in determining miracles for the Vatican? Well, it’s all part of the process, which I go into detail about in my book. Miracles, I learned, are almost always medically oriented — a healing of some sort. Before the priests in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints determine whether a venerable has been an intercessor for a healing miracle from heaven, doctors take a hard look at the medical records. In this regard, the Vatican has a consulting group of several dozen doctors who make up what’s called, in Italian, the Consulta Medica. The job of the doctors is not to declare a miracle. Rather, they study the medical history and records of a “healed” person to see if there is any medical explanation for the purported cure. If there is, the alleged miracle is tossed. But if a panel of five reviewing doctors agree by at least a 3-2 vote that the cure is “medically inexplicable,” then the case history goes to the priests to determine who was prayed to and if those prayers were answered with a miracle.

Penn State basketball

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

There are all kinds of miracles, it seems. This blogger points out one that seems reasonable.

The toe of the boot

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Reggio di Calabria is not a top tourist destination for travelers to Italy. But this web site could change a few minds. It is not Tuscany, but the region and the city have their charms.

The pope’s photographer

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

giansanti of JPII
Photo by Gianni Giansanti
From The New York Times today: “Gianni Giansanti, an internationally prominent photojournalist known for nearly three decades of images that captured Pope John Paul II on the bustling world stage and in contemplative private moments, died on Wednesday in Rome. He was 52.” Full obit here.

Catholics among Mormons

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Relatively speaking, I suspect there are not many Catholics among the many Mormons in Salt Lake City, Utah, but Deacon Scott Dodge at St. Mary Magdalene is among them. And a close reader of My Cousin the Saint, as this blog post illustrates.

Scenes from NYC

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

calandra 1
Last week, March 12, I had the great honor of speaking about my book at the Calandra Italian American Institute of Queens College.
Calandra 2
There was a nice turnout and a very receptive audience. I took questions for more than 30 minutes — a lively discussion about southern Italy. Thanks to Joe Sciorra and Anthony Tamburri for the invitation.
old town bar 1
The following night, March 13, I had a blast speaking at the famous Old Town Bar on 18th Street in Manhattan. It was crowded and noisy and a great deal of fun, more of a shout than a talk.
old town bar 2
Owner Matt Meagher, a friend of my sister’s, was good enough to invite me and make books available. Thanks Matt….Photos by Emilia Catanoso

Beatification buzz

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

In the news: “According to the Italian daily La Stampa, John Paul II will be beatified on April 2, 2010 — the fifth anniversary of his death. Reporter Giacomo Galeazzi reports that thanks to an acceleration in the beatification process, documents pertaining to John Paul’s cause, called the “positio,” have already been forwarded by a commission of theologians to be examined by cardinals.“This is very good news,” says Msgr. Tadeusz Pieronek, the Polish priest who has been responsible for the diocesan phase of the beatification process in Krakow, La Stampa reported.” The whole story is here.

What would St. Patrick do?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

From the On Faith column in the Washington Post:

“The Bishop of Scranton threatened to cancel mass during Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the largest in the country, if organizers honored “an abortion-rights supporter” — ostensibly Vice President and Scranton-native Joe Biden. They didn’t and he didn’t.

“But the controversy threatened to divorce the Church from politicians who enforce laws permitting abortions. Since Catholic officeholders are sworn to respect the constitution, the bishop’s decree would have effectively kept all those kind of law-abiding Irish-American Catholics out of the Church on St. Patrick’s Day. Its arguable whether the threat advanced the coming of God’s Kingdom. However, it goes against tradition.” The rest of the story is here.

Thank you, Judith

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Today is my sister’s birthday. Today is another anniversary of sorts. Three years ago on March 10, Randi Murray, my agent at the time, called me to say, “Mr. Catanoso, you have a contract.” Thrilling words to hear for the first time. That’s when Judith Regan, former HarperCollins publisher, gave her editor the green light to take a risk on a book about an Italian-American journalist with a saint in the family tree. Tomorrow, I head to New York City to tell folks what’s happened since. Thank you, Randi. Thank you, Judith. Happy birthday, Marlene.