Bishop opens sainthood cause for French sister

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The diocesan phase of the canonization cause of the French nun regarded by the church as the founder of Mary's House at Ephesus in Turkey officially opened at Kansas City's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Jan. 21.

The ceremony initiating the sainthood cause for Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey followed solemn vespers in honor of Mary. Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph presided, with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kan.; retired Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini of Izmir, Turkey; and retired Bishop Raymond J. Boland of Kansas City-St. Joseph also participating.

Mary's House, or "Meryem Ana Evi" in Turkish, is a small stone home overlooking the bay at Ephesus, believed to be where Mary lived with St. John after the death and resurrection of Jesus and where she was assumed into heaven.

Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have all visited and prayed at Mary's House, a place of pilgrimage for both Christians and Muslims.

In his homily during vespers, Bishop Finn said Mary's House "is the place of prayer and devotion to millions of children of Mary each year: Christians and Muslims together. They adorn its walkways with their petitions" to her as the mother of God and the Lady of the Quran.

Without the effort, devotion and resources of Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey, Mary's House would likely have been lost to the modern world. Born into a noble French family in 1837, Adele Louise Marie de Mandat-Grancey desired from a young age to serve God as a Daughter of Charity.

As a religious, she cared for orphans in France, and in 1886, she moved to work at a French hospital in Smyrna (modern-day Izmir), Turkey, and used her own funds to refurbish the hospital and establish a school for girls. Though Sister Marie lived her life under a vow of poverty, she was allowed to use her family's wealth for apostolic works.

"When God had prepared her," Bishop Finn said, "he acquired her will and her heart so that the gift of 'Meryem Ana Evi,' Mary's House, could be revealed to the world."

Sister Marie had read and been moved by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich's account of the life of Mary and St. John and, while in Turkey, prevailed on two skeptical Vincentian priests to search for the home based on Blessed Emmerich's visions of the home. When it was miraculously found, Sister Marie used her family's resources to purchase and restore the property.

Bishop Finn visited the house at Ephesus three years ago with members of the family of George B. Quatman, who created a foundation called the American Society of Ephesus to support the maintenance of Mary's House. On that trip, Bishop Finn visited with Archbishop Ruggero Francheschini of Izmir.

"Archbishop Francheschini, carrying the cultural challenges and political turmoil (that are) part and parcel of his historic see, expressed deep affection for the holy house and admiration for its founder, Sister Marie de Mandat-Grancey," Bishop Finn said in his homily. "Two years later, he would ask me to take the cause in his stead, a request that was hard to refuse when requested by his good predecessor and envoy, Archbishop Bernardini."

The opening of the cause began after vespers with the appointment of the postulator and the taking of oaths by the various officials who will serve in the diocesan phase of the cause, including Bishop Finn.

Andrea Ambrosi, who will promote Sister Marie's cause in Rome as postulator, also has worked on the sainthood causes of Blessed Emmerich, Blessed Pope John XXIII, Blessed John Henry Newman, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Blessed Franz Jagerstatter and St. Mother Theodore Guerin.

With one hand on the Gospels and one on his pectoral cross, Bishop Finn promised to "keep secret all that I may learn" during the investigation of Sister Marie's life and not to "accept any gift" in relation to the investigation. Similar oaths were taken by tribunal members, translator, postulator and members of the historical and theological commissions who will serve in the diocesan phase, which is expected to last two or three years.

Among those attending the Kansas City ceremony were members of the Daughters of Charity and the Vincentians and relatives of Sister Marie, including Dominican Sister Elisabeth de Mandat-Grancey, Baron Philippe de Mandat-Grancey, Baron Jacques de Mandat-Grancey and Baroness Rosario de Mandat-Grancey.

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