VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis has moved two major 20th Century Catholic clergymen on the road to possible sainthood: The Rev. Patrick Peyton, the “Rosary Priest” who preached to millions on radio, TV and film; and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, mentor to the future Pope John Paul II.
The Vatican said Tuesday that Francis had approved decrees asserting both men lived lives of heroic Christian virtue, some of the dozen such decrees approved the day before during an audience with the head of the Vatican’s saint-making office.
Secret Vatican committees of doctors, cardinals, theologians and bishops must now certify a miracle attributed to each man’s intercession in order for him to be beatified. A second miracle is needed to be made a saint.
Peyton staged massive prayer rallies around the world and used radio, TV and film – and Hollywood stars including Bing Crosby and Lucille Ball – to spread his message of prayer. He was perhaps most famous for coining the term “the family that prays together stays together.”
The Irish-born priest moved to the U.S. as a young man and was ordained, along with his brother, in 1941. The next year, he founded his rosary ministry and later Family Theater Productions, which produced 600 radio and television shows and aired more than 10,000 broadcasts.
He died in 1992 in Los Angeles.
Wyszynski, for his part, was Poland’s primate and leading moral authority before Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected pope in 1978.
An opponent of both the Nazi occupation and the communist regime, Wyszynski was held under house arrest by the communists from 1953-56. Throughout the decades of communism he peacefully supported the nation in its struggle for freedom and was an inspiration for the Solidarity freedom movement, taking efforts to shield it from repression.
He died in 1981, just weeks after John Paul was shot in St. Peter’s Square.
From his hospital bed, John Paul sent a tape-recorded message eulogizing his mentor as the “keystone of the unity of the church in Poland.”
Scislowska reported from Warsaw, Poland.