New Jersey nun credited with curing boy to be beatified

NEWARK, NJ -- More than 80 years after her death, a New Jersey nun credited with curing a boy's eye disease is set to be beatified on Saturday.

Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, who died in 1927 at age 26, is scheduled to be beatified in a ceremony led by Cardinal Angelo Amato at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

A native of Bayonne and member of the Sisters of Charity, she's widely recognized within the church for her religious writings and a miracle that forever changed the life of Michael Mencer, who was diagnosed with a degenerative eye condition as a kid.

A teacher gave Mencer a relic of Sister Miriam Teresa with a lock of her hair inside and a prayer card.

"He drew a hand-written diagram of my field of vision, and I believe it was 20/40 in one eye and something else in the other," Mencer said.

Soon after receiving those gifts, he says his condition began to improve.

"Definitely remember, oh there's the sun," he said. "And I look back down, and I had the memento here, and the section where the hair, I looked down and I could see it."

The miracle strengthened Mencer's faith and prompted him after all these years to fly from Nebraska back to New Jersey to visit Sister Miriam Teresa's tomb inside her convent.

Mencer also wanted to be present for her historic beatification.

It's the first mass of it's kind to ever be celebrated in the United States, and as many as 2,000 people are expected to fill the pews at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart Saturday morning to mark the third step out of the four required for sainthood in the Catholic Church.

The beatification comes nearly 10 months after the event was certified as a miracle by Pope Francis.

Attendees also will include a "whole slew of nuns," priests and more than 20 bishops, including one from Poland, said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark. During the ceremony, a procession will be held carrying a relic from Sister Miriam Teresa and a portrait of the sister, Goodness said.

Beatification requires evidence of one miracle that happened after the candidate has died and as a result of a specific plea to the candidate. Sainthood requires a second miracle, though candidates deemed martyrs need only one for canonization.

(Some information from the Associated Press used in this report)
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