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

On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Most Rev. Kevin Rhoades, Bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend officially accepted the joint petition of the Midwest Province of Brothers and the United States Province of Priests and Brothers for the Cause for Canonization of Br. Columba O’Neill, C.S.C. It was requested that the cause for canonization of Br. Columba be formally opened on the grounds of a life lived out of heroic service.

The petition for canonization was lodged on October 28, 2021, by Br. Philip Smith, C.S.C., Province Archivist and now Postulator of the Cause. Br. Smith attests that there are over 10,000 letters written to Br. Columba that are 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.

In his Decree of Acceptance of Petition, Bishop Rhoades wrote, “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.”

Br. Columba O’Neill, C.S.C., was born John O’Neill on November 5, 1848, in 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. 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, and devotion to the Sacred Heart.”

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