BOSTON — Cardinal John Henry Newman believed that God created everyone for a definite purpose.

Now the mission of this scholar appears to have entwined with those of two Americans. Both were possibly miraculously cured through his intercession.

If Pope Benedict XVI decrees either claim a miracle, the venerable cardinal who dominated the Victorian English Church could be declared blessed, the first stage on the way to sainthood.

One story involves a 61-year-old deacon with a crippling spinal condition. The other involves a 17-year-old left comatose by an accident.

The tribunal probing the case of Deacon John Sullivan of Marshfield, Mass., should conclude by November, according to Peter Jennings, spokesman for the Archbishop of Birmingham, England.

“Deacon Sullivan was restored to full mobility after prayers to Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) in 2001,” Jennings said in an article posted on the Archdiocese website.

“I don’t know that it’s a miracle until the Holy Father says it is, but it’s been an experience of great faith,” Deacon Sullivan said.

Jennings reported that Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston gave an update to Father Paul Chavasse, provost of the Newman Oratory in Birmingham, at a July 28 meeting. Father Chavasse is postulator of the Newman cause, and Jennings is press secretary to the Fathers of the Birmingham Oratory for the Cause.

Both men also met this summer with the deacon and with Andrew Munroe, the 17-year-old from Salem, N.H.

Interest in Cardinal Newman’s cause is worldwide, as his legacy of intellectual honesty has influenced thousands, including Pope Benedict XVI. Born in 1801, Newman became an Anglican vicar. After recovering from a severe illness, he felt that God had saved him for a special mission. He launched the Oxford Movement, a religious revival within the Church of England. He converted to Catholicism in 1845 and entered the priesthood. He founded University College in Dublin and a religious order, the English Oratory of St. Philip Neri.

Pope John Paul II declared Cardinal Newman venerable in 1991. One miracle attributed to his intercession is required for beatification, and then one subsequent one for canonization.

The Boston tribunal’s confidential testimonies will go to the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C. He will forward them to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Jennings said in an August telephone interview.

Sullivan’s story began five years ago. His chronic back problem was so bad that he feared he’d be unable to finish his studies for the diaconate. He prayed for Cardinal Newman’s help. Neither he nor Cardinal O’Malley could discuss the story other than to confirm that a tribunal exists. But the deacon did say, “It’s a beautiful story.” Following his recovery, he was ordained in 2002.

“There’s a whole wave of secularism going on here and in Europe, and this is one heresy Cardinal Newman fought heroically against,” he said. “He has a lot to say on issues, like, who decides what’s right and wrong — man or God? Who’s supreme — man or God?”

Andrew Munroe’s case has not reached the stage of Deacon Sullivan’s. Rather, the Roman postulator of the cause, Andrea Ambrosi, will gather evidence in Salem this month. The congregation may then request that the Diocese of Manchester set up a tribunal.

Andrew suffered severe brain damage in a fall from a car on Oct. 17, 2005, the same day Father Chavasse disclosed news that the Boston tribunal had been formed in June 2005.

Andrew lay in a coma for the next two weeks, and doctors predicted the worst. His parents, Greg and Mary Ann Monroe Sullivan (no relation to the deacon), refused to take him off life support.

On Oct. 30, they had a Mass celebrated for him at St. Joseph’s, their Salem parish. The pastor, Father Richard Cleary, had read of the deacon’s case.

“I said to them, ‘Miracles can happen,’” he recalled. He challenged people to pray for one through Cardinal Newman’s intercession.

“After that, Andy was taken off life-support and he could breathe on his own,” his mother said. She contacted Deacon Sullivan, who conducted two healing services at Andrew’s bedside.

During the second service Nov. 26, he blessed Andrew with a relic, a lock of the cardinal’s hair. “Andy made the peace sign and gave ‘thumbs-up’ to the 20 of us there,” Mrs. Sullivan said. “The next day he began therapy. Doctors had said his speech would never come back; now he talks like us.”

Andrew is continuing physical therapy and 11th-grade honor studies with a tutor.

“Andy will recover all the way because he’s supposed to. He has so many people coming back to God because of him,” his mother said. “This was part of Andy’s mission.”

Gail Besse is based in Hull, Massachusetts.