VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Fr. Michael J. McGivney Wednesday, paving the way for the beatification of the founder of the Knights of Columbus.
During a May 26 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope authorized the congregation to issue a decree recognizing the miracle.
Fr. McGivney founded the Knights of Columbus in 1882. Today it is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal service organization, with nearly two million members in more than a dozen countries.
Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1852, Fr. McGivney played a critical role in the growth of the Church in the United States in the latter part of the 19th century. After his ordination in Baltimore in 1877, he served a largely Irish-American and immigrant community in New Haven.
Amid an anti-Catholic climate, he established the Knights to provide spiritual aid to Catholic men and financial help for families that had lost their breadwinner.
A press release from the Knights of Columbus May 27 said the miracle recognized by Pope Francis involved an unborn child in the United States who was healed in utero of a life-threatening condition in 2015 after his family prayed to Fr. McGivney.
It added that a date would be set soon for the beatification Mass, which will take place in Connecticut.
Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson said: “Fr. McGivney has inspired generations of Catholic men to roll up their sleeves and put their faith into action. He was decades ahead of his time in giving the laity an important role within the Church.”
“Today, his spirit continues to shape the extraordinary charitable work of Knights as they continue to serve those on the margins of society as he served widows and orphans in the 1880s.”
“Fr. McGivney also remains an important role model for parish priests around the world and left us a transformative legacy of effective cooperation between the laity and clergy.”
Father McGivney’s sainthood cause officially opened in 1997 in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI declared the American-born priest a Venerable Servant of God in recognition of his life of heroic virtue.
In 2000, an investigation into a miracle attributed to McGivney’s intercession was completed. But in 2011, the Vatican ruled that the event was not miraculous in nature.
In 2012, another possible miracle was reported and placed under investigation.
Following his beatification, Father McGivney’s cause will require one more authenticated miracle before he can be considered for canonization.
He would not be the first member of the Knights of Columbus to be canonized. A group of six Mexican members of the organization were martyred during the Cristero War of 1926-29 and its aftermath.
The six are St. Luis Batis, St. Rodrigo Aguilar, St. Miguel de la Mora, St. Pedro de Jesús Maldonado, St. José María Robles, and St. Mateo Correa.