Despite Kentucky tornadoes, Virgin Mary statue still stands

The deadly storms that hit nine states in the Midwest and the South produced an image of a statue of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child, seemingly untouched outside the damaged building of Resurrection Catholic Church. The statue is still standing, though the windows and doors are blown out and the roof missing.

A photo of the statue published by the Evansville Courier & Press newspaper shows the statue outside the Dawson Springs church building, which suffered far more severe damage.

A series of storms and tornadoes passed through nine states, including Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri and Tennessee, late Friday and early Saturday morning. Western Kentucky was hardest hit, with 74 deaths confirmed there as of Monday. Northeast Arkansas, southeast Missouri, and northwest Tennessee also suffered heavy damage. Across all affected states, the confirmed death total was 87, making the storms one of the deadliest in U.S. history, according to the Washington Post.

Pope Francis approves miracle attributed to a French nun who will be made a saint

Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to Blessed Marie Rivier, a French nun who founded a religious congregation amid the French Revolution.

The miracle involved the healing of a newborn baby in the Philippines in 2015 through the intercession of Rivier, who can now be canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church.

The baby girl was healed of hydrops fetalis, according to Vatican News. This is a life-threatening condition in which there is a buildup of fluids around the lungs and heart.

Pope Francis authorized the advancement of Rivier’s cause, along with five other causes for sainthood, in a decree on Dec. 13.

Rivier was born in southern France on Dec. 19, 1768. She suffered from a disability for much of her childhood after falling out of bed as a toddler and seriously injuring her hip.

The injury impaired her development, causing her joints to swell and her limbs to shrink. Rivier could hardly stand with the help of crutches, according to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Her health problems also hindered her desire to enter religious life. At the age of 17, a religious order, the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Pradelles, turned her away on account of her poor health.

Rivier persevered and the following year she opened a Catholic school in the town of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois on the Swiss border. She helped to train unemployed women in her parish and cared for the sick and the poor.

As the French Revolution forced convents and monasteries across France to close and priests and nuns were martyred under the Reign of Terror, Rivier founded a religious community.

In 1796, she founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary, which was dedicated to education of young girls in the faith. The congregation received official approval in 1801 and expanded across France.

Within a few decades of Rivier’s death in 1838, her congregation had spread to Canada and the United States. Today the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary are present on five continents.

At her beatification in 1982, Pope John Paul II spoke of the ardor of Rivier’s apostolate during and after the French Revolution and her faith amid physical infirmity.

The date of Rivier’s canonization has yet to be announced.

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