Kaya Burgess, Religious Affairs Correspondent, Thursday September 03 2020, 8.00pm, The Times:
The Vatican has considered the case of Mother Elizabeth Prout, who died in 1864, and is expected to approve the third step on the five-step path to sainthood, in which she is declared “venerable”, before the end of the year. This will prompt a formal Vatican investigation into two miracles that have been attributed to her by seriously ill people who prayed to her for healing.
Cardinal John Henry Newman, who died in 1890, became the first British saint of modern times in October. Prout would be the first British woman who lived in the past 800 years to be made a saint without having been a martyr.
The Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Right Rev Mark Davies, has renewed calls for Prout, who was born in Shrewsbury 200 years ago this week, to be canonised. The daughter of a cooper, she founded schools for the poor children of industrial workers and set up refuges for girls who worked in the factories.
Bishop Davies said that Prout came to Manchester at the same time that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels visited the city. In a homily at Shrewsbury Cathedral this week, he added: “If Marx and Engels merely observed the condition of the poor, Elizabeth desired to live and die among them.”
Prout died of tuberculosis aged 43 in 1864. Catholic teaching holds that believers can pray to people who have ascended to Heaven to ask them to “intercede” with God on their behalf, such as asking for a serious medical condition to be cured. If the sick person makes a recovery deemed surprising by their doctors, it can be classed as a miracle by the Vatican.
An individual is beatified after having one miracle formally acknowledged by the Vatican and is canonised once two miracles are validated.
In 1999, a woman in Chile said that she recovered from a brain injury after praying to Prout. In 2000 a man, also from Chile, said that his cancer vanished after he prayed to her.