Body Of Cloistered U.S. Nun Who Died In 1939 Found 'Intact' With Green Palm
By Michael H. Brown
The spokesman for a monastery in Pennsylvania has confirmed that the body of a nun who died 63 years ago -- in 1939 -- appears to be "intact" and holding a palm that remains green.
The discovery was made last August during renovation of a mausoleum in Coopersburg, about seven miles southeast of Allentown, where the nun, Mother Therese of Jesus, founded the Carmelite Monastery of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi. While there are a number of instances in Europe, the phenomenon of incorrupt, supernaturally preserved bodies is extremely rare in the U.S. If verified by Church authorities it will be a huge development for the American Church, which has only a handful of saints and of those just a few, St. John Neumann, Mother Cabrini, and St. Rose Duchesne, who were found at least partially incorrupt.
Among the pantheon of incorrupt saints is St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi -- after whom the monastery was in part named.
"We were reconfiguring the burial site for the sisters and during the placement of tombs, we had to relocate her tomb," the spokesman, Sam Miranda, who saw the body himself, told Spirit Daily. Miranda said that the monastery is strictly following the protocol for canonization of Mother Therese and thus is not using the term "incorrupt" until the official Church recognizes it as such.
But the body, he said, was in "human form."
"We don't want to violate the process in initiation of the cause [of official approval]," he said. "I will tell you that her body maintained its human form." The diocesan newspaper, The A.D. Times, reported that "the condition of Mother Therese's body became known when workers renovating the mausoleum noticed her state -- vastly different from the other deceased sisters -- causing nuns residing at the monastery to appeal to their superior to examine the matter."
That led the general delegate to the Carmelite nuns and hermits in North America, Rev. John Benedict-Weber, to begin an investigation of Mother Therese's life as told through her letters and personal records in order to determine if a formal request should be made to begin the canonization process.
"One of the fathers has just returned from Rome, and we are being cautious," said Miranda. "In no way, shape, or form do we want to violate the Vatican's process. So I'm only validating that during the process of reconstruction of the mausoleum, the foundress, who is Mother Therese of Jesus, was found in a humanlike state. I was there."
The strictly cloistered Coopersburg Carmelites have no communication with the outside and so there was not the opportunity to interview other witnesses. However, Miranda confirmed that the palm branch was still green. He said all Carmelites sisters are buried with a palm. According to the diocesan newspaper, the ten Carmelites at the large, spare monastery have been praying for Mother Therese's cause. Baptized Maria Anna Lindenberg, the nun was born in Muenster, Germany, and came to the U.S. in 1901 after the death of her parents. She later returned to Europe to establish a monastery in the Black Forest and also spent time at monasteries in Rome and Naples. Mother Therese died at age 62 and the palm she held was from the recent Easter celebration, according to the diocese.
[The order to which Mother Therese belonged is called "Carmelites of the Ancient Observance." It was greatly influenced by St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross -- whose body was also incorrupt -- and was also the order (centuries later) of St. Therese the Little Flower. As for St. Magdalene de Pazzi: she was a mystic known for her visions and ecstasies. She was born in Florence on April 2, 1566. Like Mother Therese she led a hidden life and had a dedication to Pentecost.]
See also book, The Incorrputibles in our bookstore
Cause May Be Opening For 'Incorrupt' U.S. Nun As Accounts Of Intercession Begin
An informed source says that the Church is officially opening the cause of beatification for a nun, Mother Therese of Jesus, whose body was found in what has been described as a remarkably intact state at a monastery near Allentown, Pennsylvania.
The nun, a Carmelite, founded the Monastery of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi in Coopersburg and died in 1939. Her body was disinterred for reburial in August 2001 -- at which time it allegedly was found to be incorrupt or at least surprisingly preserved and still holding a palm that had not disintegrated.
The discovery was made during renovation of a mausoleum and bore potential significance because the phenomenon of incorrupt bodies is extremely rare in the U.S. If verified it will be a major development for the American Church -- which has a small number of saints and just a few, St. John Neumann, Mother Cabrini, and St. Rose Duchesne, who were found at least partially incorrupt.
The strictly cloistered Coopersburg Carmelites have little communication with the outside but a spokesman told Spirit Daily in 2002 that the palm branch was still green. Since that time there has been virtually no news from the monastery as the nuns have observed Vatican guidelines, limiting public information.
"We don't want to violate the process in initiation of the cause [of official approval]," a spokesman, Sam Miranda, said at the time. "I will tell you that her body maintained its human form."
It is known that the discovery of Mother Therese's body led the general delegate to the Carmelite nuns and hermits in North America, Reverend John Benedict-Weber, to begin an investigation of Mother Therese's life as told through her letters and personal records in order to determine if a formal request should be made to begin the canonization process.
According to a source, the general delegate was at the monastery this week to open the cause. Thus far, however, there has been no official confirmation.
Those involved are seeking testimonies about the nun's intercession and already, a woman from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, Roberta Ann Marziani, who works as a photo editor for TV Guide, has offered a recent instance of what she says was an intercession and reports that the nuns there will write it up as part of a report.
"I'm still overwhelmed by this experience," she says. "I've always heard that God doesn't give you more than you can handle. And that sometimes he sends angels or saints to help us.
"Since last February, I've been going through an extremely difficult time -- a 'dark night of the soul.' And it's been increasingly difficult with the passing of each month.
"I was driving home from work one night in May and I said out loud, 'Isn't there anyone up there who can help me? Isn't anyone listening?'
"This past Wednesday night -- June 14 -- I was visited by Mother Therese of Coopersburg in a dream," asserts the photo editor. "I had read a while back about her on Spirit Daily. I searched for other stories written about Mother Therese and learned that she and I have the same Birthday -- May 20!
"With the passing of time, I forgot about Mother Therese until this past Wednesday night. After a difficult day, I went to bed early. And then I had the most vivid, incredible dream.
"I dreamt that someone put what looked like a rose in my hand. Upon closer inspection, it was a soft rubbery item with reddish vines running all over it.
"I pushed the vines apart and in the middle was a tiny Infant of Prague statue (I have a great devotion to the Infant of Prague. I carry His chaplet with me every day and I have statues of Him in every room of my apartment.)
"Then someone handed me a white plastic item which when I turned it over, was a white altar with a tiny Infant of Prague statue on it in the middle.
"I looked up and there was this sweet, Carmelite sister smiling at me. She was radiant and very happy with one of the most beautiful complexions I've ever seen. We were at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto in Emmitsburg, Maryland, at the Fatima shrine there. I recognized it because it is one of my favorite places and I visit there when I can.
"I was sitting there -- in the dream -- with the Carmelite sister and I told her what beautiful skin she had. She laughed and patted my hand.
"My last image of the Carmelite sister in the dream was of her smiling and laughing with the beautiful green trees of the Grotto in the background. I felt that the Carmelite sister was comforting me and reminding me of my devotion to the Infant of Prague."
The experience, she says, washed away her depression and left her with an astonishing degree of peace.
"When I woke up on Thursday morning, I realized immediately who the Carmelite sister was in the dream. I had seen a picture of her on the internet when the story came out about her body being incorrupt after 63 years. On the way home from work last night, I left three messages about my dream of Mother Therese on the Carmelite Sisters of Allentown's answering machine. This morning there was a very nice message from Sister Maria [a nun at the monastery]. She said they all thought it was wonderful that Mother Therese had visited me in the dream and that she was going to send me a book on Mother Therese.
"When I called her, she said the way I described Mother Therese was exactly how she was in life -- always smiling and laughing. And she had no doubt that it was Mother Therese, either. She also said that Mother Therese had a great devotion to the Infant of Prague and that there was no way I could have known that!"
Marziani also learned that Mother Therese had unusually vibrant skin.
"I told Sister Maria Mother Therese and I have the same Birthday (May 20) and that my confirmation name is Mary Therese."
She has since visited the monastery to thank the potential nun and renew her devotion to the Infant. "Don't you think it's amazing that four days before the beatification proceedings that Mother Therese visited me? I've heard it said 'there are no coincidences.'"
[Anyone with accounts of Mother Therese's intercession can write the Carmelite Nuns of Allentown at St.Therese's Valley, 3551 Lanark Road,Allentown, Coopersburg, PA 18036]
originally published as cooperburg2
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