Nina Caccioppoli at the Catholic University of America
1: News Releases - CUA Office of Public Affairs
2: Summer '02 -- Around Cardinal Station
3: News and Information - CUA Office of Public Affairs
April 8, 2002
Catholic University sophomore Nina Caccioppoli will travel with her family to the Vatican to witness the April 14 beatification of Gaetano Errico, which will declare the 18th century Italian priest “blessed” and move him closer to canonization. The trip is a chance for Ms. Caccioppoli to see how her family has played a role in the beatification and canonization process that often leads to sainthood; her grandparents received a miracle in 1952 that was later attributed to Gaetano Errico (1791-1860) of Naples, who founded the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
“This is a major milestone on
his road to canonization,” said the Rev. Neil Roy, an assistant professor of
theology at CUA and expert on saints and the beatification process. Pope John
Paul II has elevated more than 450 Catholics to sainthood during his 23-year
pontificate, a larger number than any other pope.
is something our family has been pushing for,
” Ms. Caccioppoli said.
know it's something my father has always pursued and wanted to happen, so it's
really special for us and our relatives in Italy who will be at the ceremony.
The pope signed a final decree last April recognizing the miracle that occurred in Castellammare di Stabia, Italy, on Jan. 9, 1952, in which Ms. Caccioppoli’s grandfather, Salvatore Caccioppoli, miraculously recovered from a perforated stomach ulcer.
Mr. Caccioppoli had been complaining of severe stomach pain that day, and when a physician and surgeon examined him, they found the perforation. They wanted to operate immediately, but before Mr. Caccioppoli was to be taken to the hospital, his wife, Gaetana, remembered she had a relic of Errico and placed it to her husband’s lips as they both prayed to him for help. Almost immediately, Mr. Caccioppoli felt better and asked not to be taken to the hospital. An X-ray taken two months later found the ulcer that was clearly visible in previous X-rays had disappeared. He fully recovered and died of natural causes 30 years later.
In October 1999, the theologians and physicians of the Archdiocesan Tribunal in Italy confirmed the miracle, and the Assembly of Cardinals and Bishops of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approved their findings in January 2001.
Father Roy says that when the
pope beatifies Errico, the Italian priest will be declared “blessed.” A draped
image of Errico suspended from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica will most
likely be present at the beatification; when the pope pronounces Errico blessed,
the pope will remove the drape to signify the first time Errico will be
venerated publicly by the Church.
Errico also will then be
granted a place in the Roman Martyrology, a liturgical catalog of Catholic
saints and martyrs arranged by the dates of their feasts.
Ms. Caccioppoli, of Lawton, Okla., is available for interviews before she leaves for Italy the weekend of April 13. Reporters who wish to speak with her should call Chris Harrison or Janelle Cowgill at 202-319-5600. Father Roy also is available for interviews about beatification, canonization and sainthood and can be reached at 202-319-6516.
Witness to a Miracle
As the wind picked up, threatening to blow out the flickering candle Nina
Caccioppoli was holding, she closed her eyes and said a quick prayer.
Ms. Caccioppoli, a 20-year-old sophomore at Catholic University, was standing just a few feet from Pope John Paul II during a historic beatification ceremony this past April at St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The art history major’s task was to carry a lit candle — representing the continuation of faith through the generations — and place it on a gold table next to the pope.
She couldn’t let a gust of wind ruin this day.
“I was so nervous,” said Ms. Caccioppoli after the April 14 beatification of the Rev. Gaetano Errico. The student’s grandfather had received a miracle 50 years earlier that was later attributed to the 19th century Italian priest. As the pope said at the beatification, Father Errico founded the Congregation of Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary and spent whole days in the confessional devoting “his best energies welcoming and listening to penitents.”
“Carrying the candle was my one job,” the student says. “I couldn’t blow it.”
Suddenly, the winds calmed and the sky opened up, allowing sunlight to stream onto the crowd gathered to witness the ceremony. Father Errico and five others would be beatified that day, making it possible for them eventually to be named saints.
Ms. Caccioppoli’s family flew in from Lawton, Okla., and gathered at relatives’ homes in the Italian town of Castellammare di Stabia, where, 50 years earlier, Salvatore Caccioppoli miraculously recovered from a perforated ulcer.
On that cold January day in 1952, Salvatore’s diagnosis looked bleak. The stomach problems he had complained of for many years had worsened. His wife, Gaetana, who was named after the now-beatified priest, called for the family doctor as Salvatore writhed in pain.
The doctor and a consulting surgeon told Salvatore he was suffering from a perforated stomach ulcer and needed immediate surgery. Just as the physician called an ambulance to take him to the hospital, Salvatore’s wife remembered a relic of Father Errico that she had kept from the years when she attended the church where the priest is buried. She held the relic to Salvatore’s lips as she prayed for help.
“Immediately, he was fine,” his granddaughter at CUA relates. Salvatore’s stomach pains ceased, and he got out of bed. An X-ray two months later confirmed that the ulcer — visible in previous X-rays — had disappeared.
“This makes me think that some sort of supernatural and divine intervention has contributed to his recovery, since, as a doctor, I can’t explain how the recovery has happened,” Dr. Bartolo Quartuccio wrote in a statement unearthed several years later.
Three years ago, Church officials contacted Ms. Caccioppoli’s uncle after the officials found the old sworn statements of Salvatore, his wife and the two doctors. Finally, in April 2001, the pope signed the final decree recognizing the miracle.
The beatification ceremony was something of a “pep rally,” Ms. Caccioppoli reports, with supporters of each of the six blesseds standing in groups, cheering and waving sashes. It was an experience she says she’ll never forget.
“This is something our family has been pushing for for so long,” she adds. “It was a bonding experience for all of us.” – J.C.