Pope Francis on Feb. 23, 2023, approved a miracle attributed to Servant of God Mother Elisa Martinez / Tele Dehon YouTube

Washington D.C., Feb 23, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Today Pope Francis approved a miracle to advance the cause of canonization of Venerable Servant of God Elisabetta Martinez, an Italian nun and founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca.

The miracle involved the healing of an unborn baby girl in Rimini, Italy.

Ultrasound imagery in 2017 revealed to the child’s mother that her baby was suffering from several severe life-limiting and potentially life-ending conditions.

These conditions included thrombosis, complete calcific occlusion of the left fetal umbilical artery, extensive placental infarction, and severe intrauterine fetal growth retardation associated with brain sparing condition.

A family friend informed the Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca, whose various congregations began praying novenas for a miraculous healing through the intercession of their founder Elisabetta Martinez.

In January 2018 new ultrasound imagery shocked doctors by revealing regular quantities of amniotic fluid and regular fetal flowmetry, both major improvements to the baby’s condition. Yet, the baby girl was still found to be suffering from thrombosis of an umbilical artery and fetal growth retardation.

On March 19, 2018, the baby girl was born completely healthy.

A Feb. 23 decree by Pope Francis authorized the advancement of Martinez’s canonization cause based on the baby girl’s miraculous healing.

The Vatican’s Dicastery for the Causes of Saints will now advance Martinez to the status of “blessed,” one step away from being declared a saint in the Catholic Church.

A new religious order

Martinez was born on March 25, 1905, in Galatina, Italy.

In 1930, at the age of 25, Martinez made her first profession of religious vows to the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd. She was given the name Sister Maria Lucia.

She was sent to minister to young women in the central Italian town of Chieti. However, while in Chieti she suffered from a serious lung infection and was forced to leave the order and return to her family.

During this difficult period of her life, Martinez is said to have been inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary to establish a new religious order dedicated to the education of children, the formation of adolescents, and the assistance of single mothers.

She received approval from the local bishop of Ugento, Monsignor Giuseppe Ruotolo, and in 1943 the Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca received formal papal approval.  

The daughters ministered to those suffering during World War II, giving special care to the poor.

Despite her continued illness and frail condition, Martinez worked diligently to spread the congregation’s good work throughout Italy and even to Switzerland, Belgium, and the United States.

Martinez had a great dedication to adoring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, which gave her the strength to abandon herself to God’s hands and trust in Divine Providence, according to the Dicastery of the Causes of Saints’ website.

“She lived in the presence of God, and this was reflected in everything she did,” says the dicastery’s website. “Heroic hope took the form of the ability to wait, without complaining and without breaking down, trusting in the Lord’s timing to complete his projects.”

Martinez died in Rome on Feb. 8, 1991. She was declared a venerable servant of God by Pope Francis on Oct. 13, 2021.

With the approval of the miracle attributed to her intercession, Martinez can now be advanced to the level of beatification, one step away from sainthood.

Pope Francis also recognized the heroic virtues of five other individuals today: Italian Franciscan friar and priest Giuseppe di Sant’Elpidio (1885–1974), Brazilian priest Aloisio Sebastiao Boeing (1913–2006), Italian nun Margherita Lussana (1852–1935), Spanish lay faithful Francisca Ana Maria Alcover Morell (1912–1954), and Italian mother Albertina Violin Zirondoli (1901–1972). These individuals’ causes for canonization will now advance to the level of venerable servant of God.