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Case for sainthhood for British nun reopened

The Vatican have opened the case for sainthood for a British nun who sheltered Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War.

Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough (above) was born Madaleina Catherine in 1887 and was baptised into St Mary Magdalene’s Church in Brighton aged four when her parents converted to the Faith.

She moved into the Bridgettine ‘Casa di Santa Brigida’ convent in Rome and eventually headed the order during its occupation by the Nazis, taking in around 60 Jews who would otherwise be round up and deported to Auschwitz.

Her actions during the war were recalled by surviving Jews, described her kindness and how they called her ‘Mama.’

The developments from the Vatican was welcomed by the present priest of Mother Riccarda’s parish in Brighton.

“Here in Brighton, we are following her cause with great enthusiasm and see her very much as our local saint,” Fr Ray Blake said.

“When I tell people at Mass that her cause is going forward, I’m sure that they will be overjoyed.”

Mother Riccarda’s investigation was opened alongside fellow British Bridgettine Sr Katherine Flanagan.

Sr Katherine, born Florence Catherine in Clerkenwell in 1892, trained as a dressmaker before moving to Rome and later helping open Bridgettine convents in Buckinghamshire, Switzerland and Sweden until her death in 1941.

Both nuns were sent together to the Holy See’s Congregation of Causes for Sainthood, marking a significant, but early, step forward in the long road to becoming saints.

If they are declared to have lived lives of “heroic virtue”, the Pope will declare the London-born nuns to be ‘Venerable’ and the search will begin for two miracles to first declare them Blessed and then saints.

Judith Whitehead, a niece of Sr Katherine, expressed her astonishment that the first phase had concluded so quickly.

“I thought that the progression of looking into her life would take about 10 years,” she said. “The Bridgettines obviously think that she is going to become a saint.”

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