Decree of Authenticity of the Miracle
Beatification is the second of three major steps in the process of canonization (sainthood) in the Roman Catholic Church. It requires medical and theological documentation of a miracle granted by God through the intercession of Mother Gamelin. On December 18, 2000, Pope John Paul II approved the decree of the authenticity of the miracle attributed to her intercession. The decree summarizes the findings of the Church:
"The Holy Father has declared that there was truly a miracle, granted by God through the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God, Émilie Tavernier, widow of Gamelin, and foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence. The rapid, complete and lasting cure of the young boy, Yannick Fréchette, from an acute aplastic leukemia, wherein there had been a relapse of the illness, intensive treatment with chemotherapy, the rejection of the bone marrow transplant given by his mother, and the appearance of serious infections complications, both viral and cardiac, cannot be explained scientifically." (complete text below)
In her message regarding the decree, Sister Gloria Keylor, Superior General of the Sisters of Providence, noted: "[This] is surely a time of giving thanks for so many blessings and favors that have been granted through the intercession of Émilie Gamelin.... May Emilie continue to intercede for us and for others who implore her help in their time of need" (Missive, December 2000).
Following is the complete text of the decree on the authenticity of the miracle, as printed in the SP General Administration newsletter, Missive, December 2000:
Congregation for the
Causes of Saints
Beatification and Canonization
Venerable Servant of God
Émilie Tavernier, Widow of Gamelin
of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence
Decree on the Miracle
The Venerable Servant of God, Émilie Gamelin was born in Canada, in Montreal, February 19, 1800. Following the death of her husband, Jean-Baptiste Gamelin, and her children, she consecrated herself completely to serving the poor. She founded the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence to care for orphans, aged women, aged and ill priests, and the mentally ill. When she died on September 23, 1851, worn out from all her work, her reputation for holiness was already well known.
The process of beatification was opened in Montreal in 1980. The decree on the heroic nature of her virtues was promulgated in the presence of John Paul II on December 23, 1993.
In view of her beatification, the Postulator for the cause submitted for study, to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, an extraordinary cure that took place in Montreal in 1983. It concerned a young boy, Yannick Fréchette. In 1980--when he was 10 years old--he underwent a craniotomy for the removal of a growth of tissue from the right parietal lobe of the brain. The following year, he was stricken with an acute aplastic leukemia. Following treatment for the leukemia, the child experienced two remissions, but both remissions were followed by the recurrence of the illness. On September 21, 1983, they proceeded with a bone marrow transplant given by his mother, but a month later this was rejected and the child's bone marrow once again became 'deserted,' as there was an abnormality in the production of the white and red blood cells. Because he had no immune system, Yannick was susceptible to numerous complications of viral infections and cardiac problems. The aplasy of the bone marrow lasted about one hundred days. The prognosis of the doctors who were treating him, regarding the chances that the child would survive, was completely pessimistic.
From the moment that the illness had been declared, the boy's grandmother along with some relatives, friends, and Sisters of Providence, constantly implored the divine assistance through the intercession of the Servant of God, Émilie Tavernier Gamelin, whom they invoked with great piety. Yannick himself placed a great deal of hope in the intercession of Mother Gamelin. In mid-December 1983, during an examination of the bone marrow, it was discovered that the leukemia had not progressed. The 21st of that month, the child was sent home from the hospital. He then completely recovered his health.
The diocese of Montreal examined the cause in 1997, and the result of the inquiry was attested to by the decree promulgated on March 20, 1998 by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. The Medical College of the Dicastery of Rome, during a meeting on December 16, 1999, affirmed that the cure was rapid, complete, lasting and that the autonomous and unexpected reconstitution of the bone marrow, after having rejected the transplant, remains inexplicable from the scientific point of view.
On May 23, 2000, a special meeting of the expert theologians was held and, on November 21st of the same year, the ordinary session of the Cardinals and Bishops took place. His Excellence Monsignor Andrea Maria Erba, Bishop of Velletri-Segni, was there with the title of Reporter (Cardinal Ponens).
In both assemblies, that of the expert theologians and that of the Cardinals and Bishops, an affirmative response was given to the question of whether or not it was truly a miracle due to the action of God.
These facts were duly brought to the attention of the Holy Father John Paul II by the undersigned Prefect, and His Holiness, agreeing with the wishes of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, has ordained that the decree, based on the astonishing cure, as described above, be written.
This all was carried out in good order on this day, in the presence of the undersigned prefect and that of the Reporter of the Cause, and in my presence as Secretary of the Congregation, and in the presence of the persons who are usually convoked in these circumstances. The Holy Father has declared that there was truly a miracle, granted by God through the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God, Émilie Tavernier, widow of Gamelin, and foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence. The rapid, complete and lasting cure of the young boy, Yannick Fréchette, from an acute aplastic leukemia, wherein there had been a relapse of the illness, intensive treatment with chemotherapy, the rejection of the bone marrow transplant given by his mother, and the appearance of serious infections complications, both viral and cardiac, cannot be explained scientifically.
His holiness has desired that this decree be made public and be written in the acts of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Given at Rome the 18 of December of the year 2000.
[signed] Jose Saraiva Martins
Titular Archbishop of Tuburnica
[signed] Edward Nowak
Titular Archbishop of Luni