On 1 December 2016, Pope Francis formally acknowledged that “the Servant of God, Mary Joseph Aubert [Suzanne]” was a woman of heroic virtue and worthy of the title “Venerable”. He did this in response to a petition presented by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome. It was the culmination of a long process which began officially with the Diocesan Enquiry into her life and virtues which began in 2004. In the years which followed, all relevant material was gathered and eventually presented to the Congregation in a volume, known as the Positio; about 900 pages in all. Once this had been examined and approved by two international committees of historians and theolgians it was presented to a gathering of Cardinals and Bishops for final approval before Cardinal Amato’s formal petition to the Pope.
Being declared “Venerable” marks an important milestone on the path to canonisation. Focus now shifts from proof of Suzanne’s heroic virtue from an historical and theological point of view, to one which builds on our faith in a very specific way: the recognition of a miracle prior to Suzanne being declared “Blessed” and another before she is finally proclaimed “Saint”.
As Christians we believe and often express our belief that, “in death, life is changed, not ended”. We believe that Suzanne, who has gone before us in a heroic way on the journey of faith, can intercede with Christ on our behalf and, if He decides it is for our good, respond to her request with a miracle. Praying for a miracle, demands faith and belief that this can happen. Knowing that this has happened many times before with other saints, should encourage us. As believers, we go further than simply recognising Venerable Suzanne as a good, even heroic, woman. We believe that from her place in heaven, she still walks with us.