Page last updated at 14:51 GMT, Monday, 9 November 2009

Back 'cured by Cardinal prayer'

Cardinal John Henry Newman
Cardinal Newman could be made a saint

A US clergyman has told of how he was cured of a crippling spinal condition after praying to a 19th Century Birmingham theologian.

In September Pope Benedict XVI approved claims Cardinal Newman "miraculously cured" Deacon Jack Sullivan.

Deacon Sullivan, of Boston, Massachusetts, said he started walking to the "utter amazement" of doctors.

He was talking at the start of his UK tour during which he will visit London, Birmingham and Oxford.

Cardinal Newman, a convert to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism, could become the first non-martyred English saint since the Reformation.

The cardinal, who died in 1890, founded Birmingham Oratory and was known for his work with the poor.

Deacon Sullivan, 71, said he prayed for the cardinal's help in August 2001 after being diagnosed with severe spinal disc and vertebrae deformities, a condition, he said, which left him "bent double" and in "excruciating pain".

'Prayer answered'

The deacon said he had watched a television programme in the US about Cardinal Newman and had then prayed to him first in June 2000.

He said: "The following morning I got out of bed pain-free, whereas previously I was in agony.

"I thought, 'wow, what's happening?'. My prayer was answered to Cardinal Newman."

Suddenly I felt a tremendous sense of heat, very, very warm, and a tingling feeling all over my entire body
Deacon Jack Sullivan

He said he then went through a pain-free period, which doctors had no explanation for, before the pain returned the following April.

He underwent surgery in August 2001 and was told complications meant doctors did not know if he would ever be able to walk again.

Deacon Sullivan said he had been given a relic of Cardinal Newman and had conducted healing services in his name.

He said: "I said, 'please Cardinal Newman, help me walk so that I can return to classes and be ordained [as a deacon]'.

"Suddenly I felt a tremendous sense of heat, very, very warm, and a tingling feeling all over my entire body. It was very strong and lasted for a long time."

He said he felt a "tremendous sense of peace and joy" and a sense of "confidence and determination" that he could finally walk again.

"Immediately the pain left," said Deacon Sullivan.

"It was tragic before, and I exclaimed to the nurse, 'I have no more pain'.

"Thereafter, I walked out of the room, to the utter amazement of everybody, up and down the corridors and the floor or my hospital. I was experiencing what I felt was paradise."

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