Catholic Free Press

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  • Apr
  • 27

10th anniversary of Little Audrey’s death to be celebrated

Posted By April 27, 2017 | 3:28 pm | Local
Linda Santo, Audrey’s mother, talks to a gathering at Immaculate Conception Parish’s Father Connors Center in April 2011. Behind her is a display of photos of Hosts that appear to have blood on them, and near her is a picture of Audrey.
CFP FIle Photo
Linda Santo, Audrey’s mother, talks to a gathering at Immaculate Conception Parish’s Father Connors Center in April 2011. Behind her is a display of photos of Hosts that appear to have blood on them, and near her is a picture of Audrey. CFP FIle Photo

By Tanya Connor
The Catholic Free Press
WORCESTER – The mother of “Little Audrey,” whose canonization is being sought, expressed surprise and pleasure that Bishop McManus himself would celebrate a 10th anniversary Mass for her daughter today.
“I asked him, as a mother,” if the Mass could be held at St. Paul Cathedral, Linda Santo said, but didn’t ask if he would be the celebrant.
Though she belongs to Christ the King and Our Lady of Mercy parishes, she said, she wanted the Mass at the cathedral because the wake and funeral of her daughter, Audrey Marie Santo, were held there.
“Little Audrey,” as she is known to people around the world, died 10 years ago on April 14. Since that date was Good Friday this year, and Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday followed, April 28 at 10 a.m. was chosen for the anniversary Mass.
“I’m very honored that he said yes, that he is the celebrant,” Mrs. Santo said. “It really does a mother’s heart good.… It’s going to be hard … going back there, 10 years later … for that reason.” You never think your children are going to die before you, even if they’re sick, she said.
Audrey fell into her family’s swimming pool on Aug. 9, 1987 at age 3, and ended up in a non-moving, non-speaking state. Her mother and others cared for her at her home, where unexplained phenomena have been occurring for years.
Audrey was “definitely aware of what was going on,” said Deacon Anthony R. Surozenski, who never met her, but is now vice postulator for the cause for her canonization. He is also co-director of the diocesan Office of the Diaconate.
As vice postulator, he gathers information to be used in a petition to the Vatican to officially open the cause for canonization, he said.
“We have alleged miracles, alleged healings that have taken place,” he said. The virtues of Audrey prior to her accident and anything that might be related, up to her death, will be studied.

Diocesan investigation

In 1998 Bishop Reilly established a commission to investigate these unexplained phenomena. The first phase ended with a January 1999 report that did not substantiate any miraculous happenings, but said there was “no obvious evidence of chicanery.” Bishop Reilly said the family’s dedication to Audrey was “the most striking evidence of the presence of God in the Santo home.”
This first phase of the investigation was supposed to be followed by more tests, but that was not done because it would have been expensive and invasive for Audrey, Msgr. F. Stephen Pedone, diocesan judicial vicar/vicar for canonical affairs, said in 2008.
On Sept. 11, 2008 Bishop McManus gave official recognition to a private association of the faithful seeking Audrey’s canonization. It is called “The Foundation of the Promotion of the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Little Audrey Santo and for the Diffusion of the Religious Aspects and her Personal Morality.” Deacon Surozenski was previously vice president of the foundation.
“There are nurses’ notes that show the possibility of the stigmata, usually during Holy Week,” he said of marks on Audrey’s body.
“There’s still other strange phenomena – statues still ooze oil, pictures do the same.” He said oil appears on or in chalices and patens during Masses and at other times at Audrey’s home, and one ciborium there keeps filling with oil.
“I … watched oil appear inside that ciborium,” Deacon Surozenski said. “Nobody was around.” He said he saw a small amount of oil, and returned a few minutes later to find more oil there.
Seven Hosts that have been consecrated at Masses at Audrey’s house, five of them while Audrey was bedridden, also exhibit what looks like blood, he said.
“Because of my science background, I always question everything,” said Deacon Surozenski, who has a bachelor’s degree in science and taught high school biology and other science classes.

Hosts tested

He said that about six years ago, some years after Audrey’s death, he saw blood appear on a seventh Host during Mass. There was no way anyone put anything on it, he said. He was about 10 feet away in the congregation and Mrs. Santo was five to six feet away.
Scientifically tested later, that Host was found to contain human blood with DNA that matched Mrs. Santo’s, he said.
Deacon Surozenski said tests were attempted on all the other “bleeding Hosts,” but one did not have enough material to test. All the others were found to have human blood with DNA that matched either Mrs. Santo’s, Audrey’s or that of an unidentified woman, he said. He said tests were done by Bode Technology in Virginia.
Mrs. Santo said she and others sometimes set up for Mass, and could have touched hosts, but as far as she knew no one touched any hosts to Audrey’s body before they were consecrated.
The sixth and seventh “bleeding Hosts” are kept in tabernacles at Audrey’s house and the other five in a tabernacle at the bishop’s residence, Mrs. Santo said.
The deacon said an eighth Host, without blood, appeared in the tabernacle in Audrey’s bedroom in the last couple of years. It was subsequently consecrated and now is soaked with oil, which continues to ooze from it, he said. It is kept in that tabernacle with the seventh Host.
Tests show the oils appearing at Audrey’s to be mostly olive oil, such as the oil used for the sacraments, Deacon Surozenski said.
When Audrey was alive, annual events for the anniversary of her accident drew hundreds of people from around the United States and overseas to her parish, Christ the King, and her home and “ministry house” on South Flagg Street. Some considered her a “victim soul” who suffered for others, or said her prayers brought healing. Though they can no longer see or meet her, people still come.
All are welcome to attend the 10th anniversary Mass at St. Paul’s and go to 64 South Flagg St. afterwards and/or on Saturday.
Saturday morning another anniversary Mass is to be celebrated at the Flagg Street site. There is also to be anointing with oil and the opportunity for confession, adoration, and visits to the museum and gift shops, which sell items to help with the canonization cause and the house’s upkeep.
Mrs. Santo requested prayers for the cause, which she said costs much money to investigate. She said thousands of petitions asking Bishop McManus to pursue this have been sent from around the world. She said it is important because it is a pro-life issue.
Commenting on the pro-life nature of this case, Deacon Surozenski pointed out that Mrs. Santo cared for her daughter at home instead of institutionalizing her.