Sister Blandina Segale, S.C, once called the "Fastest Nun in the West” for her quick response to injustice in the frontier towns of the Southwest, is now up for sainthood. The Santa Fe Archdiocese has taken up her cause after receiving approval from the Vatican, according to a statement issued by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Segale’s religious community.
As a young sister, Italian-born Segale was sent by her superior to Trinidad, Colorado, a frontier mining town (pictured above), to teach poor children. One of her first battles, says a profile of Segale at ItalyHeritge.com, was against lynching, a rough form of justice practiced in remote areas at the time. Segale was later transferred to Santa Fe, where with little resources she was able to found public and Catholic schools and construct a hospital. She was an untiring champion of the poor and marginalized of the community, particularly Native Americans.
This is the first time that New Mexico can lay claim to a person being considered for sainthood, making locals very excited. In an interview in the New York Daily News New York Daily News., Allen Sanchez, president and CEO for CHI St. Joseph's Children in Albuquerque, a social service agency Segale founded, explains, "There are other holy people who have worked here, but this would be a saint (who) started institutions in New Mexico that are still in operation.”
While her work with the poor made her well known throughout the local community, it was her interaction with outlaw Billy the Kid and his gang that gave her national attention. She has been the subject of books and an episode of the T.V. Western series “Death Valley Days.”
Even after all that, it may take a while to have her become officially recognized as a saint. The church needs to research, investigate, and validate claims of her miracles.
“Miracles could come in the form of healings," says Sanchez, "assistance to recent Central American immigrant children detained at the U.S. border or some other unexplained occurrences after devotees pray to her.”
Learn more about the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati here.