Nun at Center of John Paul Sainthood Case Identified

The French nun whose testimony of a mystery cure could prompt the Roman Catholic Church to beatify Pope John Paul II is a gentle, simple woman who is "deeply moved" by what has happened to her, a priest who knows her said Thursday.

Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre's identity had been kept quiet until Wednesday, when a French newspaper published her name.

Some of her colleagues in the church were still reluctant Thursday to talk much about her.

But Father Robert Aliger, a spokesman for the diocese of Aix-en-Provence, described a humble nun who went through an "incredible" experience — an unexplained recovery from Parkinson's disease after she and her community of nuns prayed to John Paul.

"All those that knew her before and after see clearly that she is cured," he said in a telephone interview.

The diocese in southeast France finished its investigation into the nun's claims last week and will present its conclusions in Rome.

Its four to five month investigation was based on medical records, blood test results, X-rays and doctors' reports, "so that the bishop can present a solid dossier in Rome," said Aliger.

"It's a voluminous dossier," he said. "There are five boxes — I saw them — of originals and a big box of X-rays."

The nun "had tears in her eyes" at the closing session of the investigation, he added.

"She is a gentle, reserved woman," he said. "She is a very simple, very ordinary person who is, I think, deeply moved by what happened to her."

The nun also underwent a psychiatric evaluation and had her handwriting analyzed, since a change in handwriting is a classic symptom of Parkinson's disease, the Rome-based cleric spearheading her cause, Monsignor Slawomir Oder, said this week.

Normally, psychiatric evaluations are not typical for church investigations into purported miracles, but Oder said church officials wanted to be particularly sure in this case and that the results were "very reassuring."

Only one document about the long-mysterious nun's experience has been made public: an article she wrote for "Totus Tuus," the official magazine of John Paul's beatification case.

She wrote of being diagnosed with Parkinson's in June 2001, having a strong spiritual affinity for John Paul because he too suffered from the disease and suffering worsened symptoms in the weeks after the pope died on April 2, 2005.

The nuns of her community prayed for her, and exactly two months after the pontiff's death, she awoke in the middle of the night cured, she wrote. The nun is a member of the "Congregation of Little Sisters of Catholic Motherhood" in Aix-en-Provence.

The nun is expected to travel to Rome for ceremonies marking the second anniversary of the pontiff's death and the closure of a church investigation into his life, which began after chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Now!" erupted during John Paul's 2005 funeral.

The Vatican's saint-making process requires that John Paul's life and writings be studied for its virtues. The Vatican also requires that a miracle attributed to his intercession be confirmed, before he can be beatified — the last formal step before possible sainthood.

Pope Benedict XVI announced in May 2005 that he was waiving the traditional five-year waiting period and allowing the beatification process to begin. There is still no word on when any beatification or canonization might occur.