The Associated Press
November 30, 2008
CAMAGUEY, Cuba - Thousands of Roman Catholic faithful and even President
Raul Castro gathered Saturday for the beatification of a monk known as
the "father of the poor" — the first ceremony of its kind on Cuban soil.
The act brings Friar Jose Olallo Valdes, a member of the Hospitaller
Order of St. John of God, to within one step of sainthood.
Olallo was born in 1820 and abandoned at a Havana orphanage. He came to
the central city of Camaguey to take his religious vows at 15 and stayed
the rest of his life, earning his nickname by caring for the needy and
chronically ill. He died in 1889 at age 69.
Beatification declares a departed person's ability to intercede on the
part of the faithful who pray to him. Olallo is credited with a miracle
in 1999, when a 3-year-old girl with an abdominal tumor made an unlikely
recovery after her family prayed to him for help.
The girl, Daniela Cabrera Ramos, now 12, attended the ceremony.
The beatification and Castro's attendance could help further improve the
relationship between the church and Cuba.