Inexplicable Cure Opens Way for Sister Sweetness' Beatification

Postulator of the Cause of Argentine Nun Tells Her Story

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By H. Sergio Mora

ROME, FEB. 3, 2012 ( She is known by the nuns of her congregation as Sister Sweetness, and an inexplicable cure attributed to her intercession has opened the way for her beatification.

«Sister Dulzura,» as the Argentine religious María Crescencia Pérez is remembered by her Sisters of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Most Holy of the Garden of Olives, will soon be beatified, though no date has been established yet.

Last Dec. 19, Benedict XVI authorized the promulgation of a decree testifying to a miracle through the intercession of Sister Crescencia.

Dr. Enrico Venanzi, postulator of this cause of beatification, spoke to ZENIT about the nun.

ZENIT: This cause seems to have generated public interest in Argentina and Chile.

Venanzi: Yes, including at top levels. In 1997, the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina declared the cause of «parliamentary interest» and requested the republic’s government to issue a «statement of national interest» promulgated with a decree on Aug. 25, 2000. Moreover, on several occasions the Chilean embassy to the Holy See has pointed out the particular attention with which this cause is followed in Chile.

ZENIT: What is known about the last moments of her life?

Venanzi: According to witnesses who were present, her last words were: «Heart of Jesus I ask you for a special blessing for Chile, given that it is God’s will that I die here. Gladly I offer you the sacrifice for the peace and tranquility of this nation.»

ZENIT: Where was she born? What is known about her family?

Venanzi: Her parents were Spanish immigrants; among her close relatives are a priest and three nuns.

She was born in San Martín, province of Buenos Aires, in 1897. She lived with her family until she was 10, when she went to study at the school of the Sisters of the Garden of Olives in Pergamino. There she discovered her religious vocation.

ZENIT: And then?

Venanzi: She made her religious profession in 1919, and took the name Crescencia; she had been baptized María Angélica.

She worked in the school next to the Motherhouse in Buenos Aires, and served in the Estela Otamendi Institute of San Fernando. Eventually she was transferred to the school of the Garden of Olives, on Rincón street. 

From 1924 to 1928 she was in Mar del Plata, where she worked at the Maritime Hospital with children, though her health was deteriorating. Later she went to Quillota in Chile, and then to her final destination, the Nicolás Naranjo Hospital in Vallenar. She died there in 1932.

ZENIT: What did you write in her biographical profile?

Venanzi: In the premise of her biographical profile I wrote: «Sister’s life unfolded in a very circumscribed geographic area. Hers was a life that was not rich in great external events, which leave their mark on civil life. She was unmarked by those events, hidden and chosen, as she was, in the observance of the Rule, accepting the Lord’s call to consecrate her life. Hence, one will seek in vain for elements that relate her to her time. Her life was one of great interior richness, as though transfigured and literally consumed in her self-giving to God and to her neighbor, particularly the sick. This is the spirit of the «Gianellina» Religious, and this was undoubtedly the spirit of Mother María Crescencia Pérez.»

ZENIT: Tell me something about the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Most Holy of the Garden of Olives, better known as the Sisters of the Garden.

Venanzi: The Institute was founded in 1829 by a priest of Liguria, Antonio Maria Gianelli (1779-1846), who in 1838 was elected bishop of Bobbio. He was a great witness of the Gospel, beatified, in fact, in 1925 and canonized in 1951.

ZENIT: What about the miracle necessary for beatification?

Venanzi: The miracle occurred in 1997. An inexplicable cure, as it was a case of acute Type A hepatitis, complicated by organ insufficiency and insulin-dependent diabetes.

ZENIT: Why did the patient ask Sister Crescencia for a miracle?

Venanzi: Shortly before, in the Aeronautic Hospital where the community of Gianellina nuns work, she heard the history of Sister «Dulzura» and of  the Sisters of the Garden who work there, and they prayed for her intercession.

ZENIT: When was she cured?

Venanzi: The sudden cure happened in the Italian Hospital, where the situation changed in just a few hours.

The patient said that while they were doing a biopsy «amid great suffering, at a certain moment it seemed to me as if everything had disappeared from my life and I felt a sensation of immense peace. Could that have been the moment when Sister Crescencia gave me the grace to be cured?»

In the span of 48 to 72 hours she was completely cured. The cure was described as unusual. A doctor of the Department of Intensive Therapy said it was «effective and of exceptional speed.»

ZENIT: Where and when will the beatification take place?

Venanzi: Here we are faced with organizational questions. It will be in Argentina, probably in Pergamino. It depends on many factors. If he could, Cardinal Angelo Amato would be there, although we still don’t know anything about all this.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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