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CASIMIRA-VIRTUES Jul-1-2010 (250 words) With photo. xxxi

Pope recognizes heroic virtues of founder of Chicago-based order

By Sarah Delaney
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI recognized the heroic virtues of a Lithuanian-born nun who went to the United States to found an order dedicated to St. Casimir, patron saint of Lithuania.

The Vatican announced July 1 the first major step toward sainthood for Mother Maria Kaupas, who established the Sisters of St. Casimir order in 1907 in Scranton, Pa.

Casimira Kaupas was born in Ramygala, Lithuania, in 1880. She traveled to Scranton to work as a housekeeper for her brother who was serving as a parish priest there. She soon became attracted to the religious life and sought to participate in it.

She was asked to form an order to sustain Catholic education among Lithuanian immigrants, and the Sisters of St. Casimir was established.

She took the name of Sister Maria, and later Mother Maria. In 1911, the order moved their headquarters to Chicago, where there was a large Lithuanian population. There they established schools and hospitals over the years.

In 1920, she helped establish a house for the Sisters of St. Casimir in Lithuania, which later became independent from the Chicago-based order.

Mother Maria suffered from bone cancer for eight years before dying in 1940. Two influential Chicago cardinals, Cardinal John P. Cody and Cardinal Joseph L. Bernardin, were strong supporters of her sainthood cause, according to the order's website.

The Vatican decree means Mother Maria heroically lived the Christian virtues. She can be beatified after a miracle is attributed to her intercession.


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