Supposed John Paul Miracle Investigated

An official inquiry will begin this week into whether a French nun's apparently inexplicable recovery from Parkinson's disease was a miracle that can be attributed to Pope John Paul II, a distinction needed to put the late pontiff on the road to sainthood, a cleric said Monday.

Monsignor Slawomir Oder, a Pole who is leading the case for John Paul's sainthood, said he was asking the French bishop in whose diocese the alleged miracle occurred to begin gathering testimony and documentation.

"Exactly two months after the death of the pope, from one minute to another, the nun didn't show the symptoms of the illness anymore," Oder told The Associated Press in one of his most extensive descriptions of the supposed miracle.

"According to the criteria of human science, the doctor couldn't give an explanation of what happened."

A miracle is required for beatification, the last formal step before a person is considered for sainthood. A second miracle is needed for someone to be declared a saint.

Oder said the nun had suffered from Parkinson's for many years and was unable to do her work caring for newborns because her hands shook so violently. John Paul himself suffered from the debilitating disease for several years.

After John Paul died April 2, the woman's superior-general asked all the other nuns in their community in France to pray to the late pope to cure the woman. On June 2, 2005, the woman was cured, Oder said.

Late last year, Oder traveled to France to interview the nun, the superior-general and her doctor to determine if the case might be the miracle the Vatican needs to beatify John Paul.

He said that when he saw the nun in question, she was "perfectly able to do her work without any symptom of what she had before."

The information from the French diocese will be forwarded to the Vatican. A team of doctors and other experts appointed by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints then will determine whether the nun's cure was indeed miraculous.