VATICAN CITY (AP/WTNH) — The founder of the Knights of Columbus, the influential U.S.-based lay Catholic organization, is moving a step closer to possible sainthood.
Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Rev. Michael McGivney, a Connecticut priest who died at age 38 of pneumonia in 1890 during a pandemic similar to the current coronavirus outbreak.
McGivney was born in Waterbury where a statue honors him.
He would be the first U.S. parish priest to be beatified, the first major step before canonization.
The headquarters for the Knights of Columbus stands as a reminder of that legacy in New Haven where he founded the lay Catholic organization in the basement of nearby St. Mary’s church.
“This church was both the center of his ministry and also the foundational location of the Knights of Columbus,” said Knights of Columbus member Andrew Walther.
The Knights said the miracle concerned the medically inexplicable cure of a baby with a life-threatening condition who was healed in utero in 2015 “after prayers by his family to Father McGivney.”
“This is something people have been waiting for for a long time prayerfully,” said Archbishop Leonard Blair Wednesday.
Walther explained to News 8, “After Fr. McGivney is beatified, then the next step after that is canonization and for canonization to occur the church would need to approve another miracle through Fr. McGivney’s intercession so there would need to be another miraculous healing typically attributed to prayers to Fr. McGivney.”
Many are hopeful the soon to be Blessed McGivney will become Saint McGivney as well.
McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882 in the basement of a church in New Haven, to encourage greater, active participation of lay Catholics in their faith and to care for families when the breadwinner died.
Today the Knights are one of the biggest Catholic organizations in the world, known for their charitable efforts and counting about 2 million members in the Americas, Caribbean, Asia, and Europe.
The organization is also an insurer, boasting more than $100 billion in financial protection for members and their families.
No date has been set for the beatification, which the Knights said would be held in Connecticut.