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Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's first cardinal on road to sainthood

Beatification committee has evidence of several miracles

Niranjani Roland, Tewatta

Niranjani Roland, Tewatta

Updated: October 29, 2015 11:34 PM GMT
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Sri Lanka's first cardinal on road to sainthood

Catholics offer flowers at the statue of Servant of God Thomas Benjamin Cooray Oct. 29 at the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, on his 27th death anniversary. (Photo by Niranjani Roland)

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Catholics in Sri Lanka believe they now have evidence of alleged miracles to proceed with the beatification of the country's first cardinal.

"We have got evidence of the miracles and once the medical reports have proved that there is a miracle then we will proceed," said Thaya Nissanka, member of the committee for the beatification of Servant of God Thomas Benjamin Cooray.

"The committee already has several proved cases," he said while people gathered Oct. 29 at the National Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka in Tewatta to honor the Oblate Colombo archbishop and first local candidate for sainthood on the 27th anniversary of his death.

Namalee Anthony, 54, from Ragama, said Cardinal Cooray's intercession helped cure her daughter of breast cancer.

"Doctors identified breast lumps in my 34-year-old daughter and everyday I prayed to Cardinal Cooray to cure her disease and finally there was a miracle in my daughter's life," she said.

"When we went for checkups, doctors couldn't find the lumps, it was really a miracle from my saint," she said.

Servant of God Thomas Benjamin Cooray, who in 1965 was made the country's first cardinal, served the Colombo Archdiocese first as coadjutor bishop in 1945 before heading it as the first local-born two years later. He retired in 1976 and died 12 years later at age 86.

In 2010, he was declared "servant of God," the prelude to the formal process by which a candidate can be declared "venerable," then "blessed" and, finally, a saint. Cardinal Cooray is the first Sinhalese for whom a cause for canonization was started.

The Colombo Archdiocese had set up a 45-member committee to evaluate testimonies from people who attribute miracles to the intercession of the late cardinal.

For a sainthood candidate to be beatified, a verified miracle must be attributed to the saint candidate's intercession. A second miracle is necessary for canonization, or the declaration of a saint. The miracle requirement is waived for martyrs.

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