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Last Updated: Friday, 11 July, 2003, 20:17 GMT 21:17 UK
Sir Jimmy backs saint calls
Margaret Sinclair
Margaret Sinclair died in 1925
Moves to canonise a former Scottish factory girl have won the backing of veteran television presenter Sir Jimmy Savile.

The celebrity said that he recovered from a potentially fatal childhood illness after his mother prayed to former trade union activist Margaret Sinclair, who died in 1925.

Her body is to be moved to a church in the heart of Edinburgh's historic old town in what is seen as part of the process towards her becoming a saint.

The move has been ordered by Scotland's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Archbishop Keith O'Brien.

One of nine children, Margaret Sinclair was brought up in poverty in a two-roomed Edinburgh basement.

Ratified miracle

She joined the enclosed Order of Poor Clares in Notting Hill, west London, in 1923, taking the name of Mary Francis of the Five Wounds.

She died two years later from tuberculosis at the age of 25 and was declared Venerable in 1978.

However, one ratified miracle is needed before she can be beatified and a second is required for the Pope to declare her a saint.

Sir Jimmy Savile
Sir Jimmy Savile said his case had been forwarded to the Vatican
A miracle is said to prove that a person is in heaven and thus able to intercede with God on behalf of those seeking help on Earth.

Margaret Sinclair's body is buried in Edinburgh's Mount Vernon cemetery, but will be moved to a side chapel of St Patrick's Church in The Cowgate.

The church hopes if more pilgrims visit her grave, it may boost the chances of a ratified miracle.

A spokesman said: "We hope people will pray and we will look for a sign from heaven."

Sir Jimmy said that his recovery from an illness at the age of two was among the evidence which had been sent to the Vatican in support of her sainthood.

Prayed to her

He said he had been so seriously ill that the doctor had taken one look at him and left a death certificate.

"The duchess, my mother, went to the cathedral in Leeds and found a leaflet about Margaret Sinclair and thought she would try that, so she prayed to her," he said.

"At that moment I apparently took a 100% turn for the better and when she came back to the house, my grandparents said I was all right.

"The priest from the cathedral and the doctor wrote this up and sent it to Rome and it's now in some room in the Vatican forming part of her CV to become a saint."

He said he was "100%" in favour of Margaret Sinclair becoming a saint.

BBC Scotland's Alan Mackay
"To Sir Jimmy, Margaret Sinclair is already a saint"

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