Francois Audelan, 56-year-old French man, was dying from an unusually malignant cancer of a kind of leukemia. When he was already in agony, his wife had chosen a coffin for him, settled formalities of the funeral. And a miracle happened – through the intercession of blessed priest Jerzy Popieluszko.

Because of the supernatural healing of the dying man on 20 September 2014 in Creteil near Paris, the investigation of the miracle through the intercession of blessed priest Jerzy Popieluszko has started and it is shortening the time of the canonization process.

- And this means that if in the French diocese the whole process is carried out, and then the Vatican Congregation of Canonization Issues, after next exact investigations, confirms this miracle, the Polish priest the martyr will be announced the saint – explains Fr. Prof. Józef Naunowicz from the University of Cardinal Wyszynski in Warsaw, a notary of the canonization process and a member of the Tribunal, who is going to hear witnesses in France soon.

A coffin like an oak

Everything started in 2001, when Francois Audelain fell ill. Doctors were doing a diagnosis of his chronic bone marrow leukemia in an untypical form and from the beginning gave him poor chances for recovery. It was shocking for him: he was still young, had a good job, loving wife and three teenage daughters. He wanted to live so much.

He was being treated by the best hematologists, professors of worldly fame. His long stays in hospitals, hard chemotherapy, medicaments – all this prolonged his life but did not bring any recovery. After 10 years, his body completely broke down. Francois fell into coma. He was then taken to a palliative ward, where there are patients in terminal state. All possibilities of any kinds of treatment had already finished. His wife remained vigilant by the unconscious man. She cared about the extreme unction (both of them are very religious, have gone through spiritual formation in the community Chemin Neu). Doctors told the wife that time of agony had come and her husband was dying. They suggested her arranging for funeral formalities. - I even chose a coffin. The oak one because Francois likes oaks – she says. At home I had already started arranging his things, I tore all his letters which I had written to him. He will not have any occasion to read them any more – I thought. But I also felt peace inside. I was not crying, I was not panicking.

Till this moment, this story, despite being tragic, is also completely ordinary. Well, like life of many people, who are suffering and dying in various parts of the world. However, in Francois' life there was a complete turning point. And everything which happened later, is not surely a question of an accidental situation. It is as if somebody up was outlining a further scenario.

My and your birthdays

Other 'main characters' of the tragedy also live in France. Rosalia, a Polish nun of St. Michael's Convent, works in hospital in Creteil and runs pastoral ministry for the ill there. It was her who brought the Holy Communion to Francis' wife when the woman was sitting by her husband's bed in the palliative ward.

Bernard Brien, a 65-year-old French priest, being in priesthood for only a few months. Before that – he had not attended the church for 40 years, married and divorced twice. In 2003 he experienced his religious conversion and later joined a seminary. Ordained a priest in April 2012, he went to Poland in July and here he visited the grave of blessed priest Jerzy Popieluszko in Warsaw. He got fascinated with the Polish priest the martyr. At his grave he also noticed that he had been born on the same day, month and year as Fr. Popieluszko – 14 September 1947. He was so impressed by the person of the blessed priest, that since that time, he has always had his pictures and relics with him. - I usually have a lot of these pictures with me in order to give them out to people – he explains.

Both s.Rosalia and Fr. Bernard, remember the Friday 14 September 2012, as if it was today. According to the prognosis of doctors, these were to be the last hours of Francois' life. - I suggested his wife bringing a priest to her husband – says s. Rosalia. Francois' wife said that her husband had already received all sacraments when he was still conscious and that he was being prepared for death, so she did not want a priest to come especially to him. However, I felt a need inside that a priest should come – the nun says. It happened that in the same hospital ward, in the next room, another patient was dying. Her family asked a priest to come to her, to give her the unction of the ill.

S. Rosalia recalls the course of events: - I went up to Francois's wife again, and said that in the ward there would be a priest soon. Then she agreed for him to come and pray.

It was nearly 3 p.m. when a priest stood by the bed of dying Francois', the French priest – Fr. Bernard so fascinated with life of Fr. Popieluszko. In the presence of Francois' wife and the nun, he started praying for the ill man. He opened a book with prayers and....came across a picture of Fr. Jerzy because he had his pictures everywhere. And then he realized the fact that it was just 14 September, that it was exactly the birth anniversary of the blessed priest. So, he laid the picture with relics of Fr. Popieluszko on the bed in which the dying man was lying and started speaking.

- Priest, Jerzy, today is 14 September, your birthday. If you can do something, it is just today. So, please, do something, help!

The priest was still going on praying in his own words and gave the nun and the man's wife a text of a prayer for canonization of Fr. Jerzy. This all was happening spontaneously, I had not planned it before, only being by the ill man and looking for a prayer, I realized the fact that it was birth anniversary of Fr. Jerzy, so I started praying for the ill man through his intercession – says Fr. Bernard.

When the priest and the nun left, and spouses were alone, something unexpected happened.

- Francois opened his eyes and asked: 'Where am I?' - his wife says. Then he got up and, as if nothing had happened, went to the bathroom by himself, but the whole apparatus to which he was connected, did not allow him for it.

His wife could not believe it. She thought that it was an instantaneous improvement of his state before the final end of his life.

An empty bed

Whereas, neither Fr. Bernard nor s. Rosalia knew what had happened after they had left. On the following day – on Saturday morning the nun felt a kind of inner order to take the Holy Communion to Francois. - I do not know why. I knew that Francois was unconscious, that his wife would not be in the room, because she was going to settle funeral issues in the morning, and I also had a lot of things to do on that day – she says. - But something was pushing me to go there. She went to hospital. First she entered a chapel, took the Holy Sacrament, rather instinctively, because she did not know to whom she was to give it. And she went to the room in which Francois was.

- I opened the door and saw.....an empty bed! - she says.

She thought that the man must have died at night. But the door to the bathroom was opened and she heard water running from a tap.

- I shouted: 'Francois, is it you?'.

- Yes, sister, please, come back in 20 minutes, because I am shaving and washing myself and then I will receive the Holy Communion.

Now the process

The nun did not believe their own eyes. Surprised and scared, she ran out into the hospital corridor. She started asking whether Francis was really alive. She was shocked that he was alive. Because from the medical point of view, it was possible for him to recover from the illness.

When s. Rosalia returned, Francois Audelan was standing in his clothes on and shaved, as he had announced earlier. They prayed together. I gave him the Holy Communion.

- And it was how it happened! - says the nun with a smile on her face. - It proves the fact that these are not us but this is God who does what he decides. Through the intercession of his saints – she adds.

As medical examinations showed, in the body of Francois there is no sign of leukemia. 'A complete remission of the illness' doctors said, that is, complete disappearance of the chronic bone marrow leukemia. It happened suddenly, after a prayer of Fr. Bernard, through the intercession of blessed Fr Jerzy Popieluszko, on Friday, at 3 p.m. - on 14 September 2012, when it was the birth anniversary of the blessed martyr.

This miraculous healing was just chosen to be investigated during the canonization process of the blessed priest from Poland. The requirement of canonic law is that a miracle must happen through the intercession of somebody, after his/her beatification, so that this person could become a saint.


„Niedziela” 38/2014

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl