The little-known shrine in our midst

Haleighpowers
From today’s Boston Globe, a story about the grave of a Boston priest who died in 1869, whose grave saw a million pilgrims approach it six decades later, and which continues to be a place of pilgrimage.

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Rosary beads and crosses swayed gently in the biting wind and rattled softly like wind chimes against the spiked wrought-iron fence that protects the grave of the Rev. Patrick J. Power.

In November 1929, six decades after Power died, more than 1 million people flocked to Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden after hearing that some who had recently visited his grave had been cured of their ailments or seen improvement. The onslaught forced the cemetery to close to visitors for about three months, and Power’s body was moved to a more secluded spot at the cemetery.

Today, they still come: the pilgrims, sufferers, and believers. Dozens each day visit the shrine that Power’s resting place has become. They arrive mostly from the Boston area, but also from around the nation and world. They leave crucifixes, flowers, coins, candles, seashells, notes, letters, and even a baseball, left by parents hoping to boost their son’s dreams of playing in the major leagues.

What’s interesting is that perhaps those miraculous cures are still coming. I’ve written before about Haleigh Poutre, the 11-year-old Mass. girl who was so beaten by her adoptive mother that she was put on life support. The state petitioned the court to allow it to pull the plug on her ventilator and stop feeding her. The court agreed, but the day after they pulled the ventilator Haleigh continued breathing on her own and the state decided to keep feeding her. A miracle? Perhaps.

The article notes that at Fr. Power’s grave someone had posted a note asking for his intercession on behalf of Haleigh. But the picture above tells the whole story (click for a larger image). It was obviously written by a child felicitously named “Faith” and it was apparently written weeks before Haleigh’s recovery, if we can take the request for a “Christmas” miracle at face value.

Along with the reported miraculous cures back in the Twenties, maybe there’s a new cure that could bring about the opening of a cause for canonization of Fr. Pat Power.

(The photo is from the Boston Globe and is part of a larger gallery of photos of the grave site.)

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