Postulator and Petitioner for the
Sainthood Cause of Sister Blandina Segale, SC
Invited to Cicagna, Italy for Historic Presentation
Pictured here after the Cicagna, Italy Special Presentation on the Opening the Cause of Sainthood for Sister Blandina Segale, SC are Most Rev. Ricardo Ramirez, Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Las Cruces, Postulator for the Cause; Roberto Bacigalupo, Mayor of Cicagna, Italy, Donatella Ruggiero author and professor; Adriana Govo; Allen Sánchez, Petitioner for the Cause; Paola Segale, Romina Sesenna, Franco Segale, Laura Segale, Sr. Blandina’s relatives; and Most Rev. Alberto Tanasini Bishop of Chiavari, Italy.
On the Road to Becoming the First Saint from New Mexico
By Most Rev. Ricardo Ramirez, C.S.B., Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Las Cruces
Postulator for the Sainthood Cause of Sister Blandina Segale, SC, Servant of God
Last month I had the very pleasant privilege to travel to Cicagna, in northern Italy, to visit the birthplace of Sister Blandina Segale, whose process for beatiﬁcation and canonization began recently.
Mr. Allen Sánchez, CEO of Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) St. Joseph’s Children, and I were invited by Mayor Roberto Bacigalupo of Cicagna, Most Rev. Alberto Tanasini, Bishop of the Diocese of Chiavari and other local authorities to make presentations at an event announcing the process of Sister Blandina’s beatiﬁcation. An in-depth presentation was made by Professor Donatella Aurili Ruggiero, author. I spoke about the canonization process and Mr. Sánchez spoke about the spirituality of the Servant of God. Sister Blandina’s relatives and the citizens of Cicagna were grateful to learn more about the holy person who, at the age of four, moved to the USA with her family. Bishop Tanasini shared with the crowd his happiness and encouragement of the opening of Sister Blandina’s Cause. He plans to promote the prayer for her Cause and her Novena in all parishes of his Diocese. It was a day filled with great joy and hope. Cicagna is proud of their “paisana.”
Who was Sister Blandina?
When she was four years old her parents brought their family to Cincinnati, Ohio, from Italy. Later Maria Rosa (her baptismal name) Segale and her sister, Giustina, joined the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. One of Sr. Blandina’s ﬁrst assignments was to Trinidad, Colorado, where she began to build schools and hospitals that would especially serve the poor. She did the same thing when she was assigned to northern New Mexico. Her absolute trust in God’s providence drove her to begin building projects with practically nothing. When people saw her digging for buildings’ foundations, they gave her materials, money and their labor. Her work in Colorado and New Mexico is well documented in her letters to her sister Giustina; later these letters were published as a book entitled At the End of the Santa Fe Trail.
She was tireless in her work of teaching and healing the poor, as well as being an advocate for women and children. She challenged the Territorial governments and the military in their treatment of Native Americans. She came to the aid of mistreated railroad workers while at the same time building schools, orphanages, trade schools and hospitals. Some of these structures are still standing today, such as the convent and school next to San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town Albuquerque. As an advocate for restorative justice, Sr. Blandina helped those guilty of crime to seek forgiveness from their victims. Once she saved a man from a lynch mob by facilitating reconciliation between him and man he shot. In 1966 this story was featured in the episode, “The Fastest Nun in the West,” in the CBS series, "Death Valley Days".
Upon her return to Cincinnati in 1897, she founded the Santa Maria Institute to serve European immigrants. The Institute is still in operation today, serving poor of that part of the city. In 1900 she came back to Albuquerque and helped start St. Joseph Hospital whose mission continues today as CHI St. Joseph’s Children, also known as St. Joseph Community Health.
Last June, Archbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan announced that the Vatican has given permission to open the Sainthood Cause of Servant of God, Sister Blandina Segale. The Congregation for the Cause of Saints named the Archbishop as Judge for the Cause, Mr. Allen Sánchez was designated as Petitioner, and I was named Postulator.
This is the ﬁrst time in the 400 year history of the Catholic Church in New Mexico that someone who lived and worked in the state is being considered for beatiﬁcation and, we pray, eventual sainthood.