Pope John Paul II 'cured' nun from beyond the grave

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A French nun has spoken publicly of her "miraculous" cure from Parkinson's disease which the Vatican last week officially declared to have been an "intercession" from beyond the grave by Pope John Paul II.

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre's abrupt recovery in 2005 from the crippling symptoms of the incurable disease will be one of the principal justifications for the "fast-track" beatification of the late pope in Rome on 1 May.

At her first full press conference, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, 49, said that she had woken on 3 June 2005 – three months after John Paul's death – "completely transformed. I felt an interior peace and strength, like a second birth." The "intense pain" and shaking that had forced her to retire from her job as a maternity nurse had "completely disappeared", she said.

The nun said that she had always felt "spiritually close" to the Polish pope, who had also suffered from Parkinson's disease. Just before facing the press, she said: "I asked him to stand close by me."

In May 2005, her order, the Little Sisters of Maternity, started to pray to the recently deceased pope for her recovery. On 2 June, she said, her superior told her that she should not despair because, "John Paul II has not said his last word". That night, she had a "sudden urge to write and was surprised to be able to do so without trembling". She woke clear of all symptoms. She went to her superior again and said: "I am cured. I have been cured by John Paul II's intercession."

After an investigation by a medical and religious commission appointed by the Vatican, the nun's experiences were officially declared a miracle last year. As a result, Pope Benedict announced last week that he would beatify his predecessor – the first step towards sainthood – in a ceremony in the Vatican on 1 May.

At least one officially recognised miracle must have been attributed to a candidate for beatification. The ceremony will be the most rapid to be recorded in the two millennia of church history, breaking Mother Teresa of Calcutta's achievement in 2003.

A "miracle" can only be declared after senior doctors appointed by the Church have certified that there has been an "instant cure" from serious illness that cannot be explained in any other way. Neurological specialists say that Parkinson's disease, per se, is incurable but that patients can sometimes have "Parkinson's-type symptoms" which disappear.

Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who has been shielded from the press until now, smiled shyly but spoke confidently during her appearance in the archbishop's palace in Aix-en-Provence. She remained, she insisted, an ordinary person who had "never doubted" that John Paul II had interceded on her behalf.

"Why me? That remains a great mystery. There were no doubt many people, including children, who were sicker than me. I can't explain it. We are just the servants of life."

Pope's path to sainthood

During his time as Pope, John Paul II beatified more than 1,300 people – more than all of his predecessors combined. It is the first step towards sainthood and requires that a miracle has taken place. A second one is required for sainthood.

For John Paul II, Pope Benedict waived the five-year period before the process can begin. The analysis of a miracle rests with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The Vatican issued stricter rules in 2008 after complaints that the Congregation was becoming a"saint factory".

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home