Servant of God Columba O’Neill, C.S.C.


Holy Cross’ Newest Cause for Canonization

Br. Columba O’Neill, C.S.C.

After accepting the petition of the Midwest Province and the U.S. Province of Priests and Brothers, the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend announced on June 24, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the formal opening of the cause for canonization of Servant of God Columba O’Neill, C.S.C.

Br. Columba O’Neill, C.S.C., was born John O’Neill on November 5, 1848, in Mackeysburg, Pennsylvania. He joined the Congregation of Holy Cross at Notre Dame on July 9, 1874, and on September 8, 1874, entered the Novitiate and took the name Columba.

Br. Columba O'Neill, C.S.C.

A cobbler at the University of Notre Dame for 38 years, Br. Columba is known for curing those with illness or ailment, taking no credit for the cures, but claiming they were the result of his “intercession to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.” From the writings of his Superior at the time, he was also known for his “humility, love of neighbor, confidence in God, lively faith, devotion to the Sacred Heart, life of prayer, of poverty . . . and all realized that in these was found the secret of his sanctity.”

Br. Philip Smith, C.S.C., Province Archivist and now Postulator of the Cause, attests that there are over 10,000 letters written to Br. Columba preserved in the archives of the Midwest Province. Among these letters, about 1,400 are those written attesting to “favors” or “cures” received through Brother’s prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Also preserved in the archives are approximately 150 letters and documents, written by Br. Columba in which he “describes his vocation.”

“Brother Columba’s saintly character was revealed in his ardent love for Jesus and Mary and in his love and care for the multitudes of people who came to see him or wrote to him.” 

Bishop Kevin Rhoades’ Decree of Acceptance of Petition

On receiving the news of the opening of Br. Columba’s cause, Br. Kenneth Haders, C.S.C., Provincial of the Midwest Province, said that he was “inspired that we may have another Holy Cross Brother who may be a saint—a brother whose ministry was to work with his hands and to pray with his full heart.”

Likewise, Fr. Robert Epping, C.S.C., Superior General, in his letter to the Congregation announcing the new Servant of God for the Congregation said, “May God be praised by the holy life of this Holy Cross Brother of ours.”

Br. Philip, C.S.C., said that he is currently developing a multi-lingual website dedicated to the Cause of Canonization of Br. Columba in which prayers, biographical information, and other pertinent information related to his Cause will be available.