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Next for Woman Who Tamed Billy the Kid: Sainthood?

Sister Segale's is first cause for sainthood in New Mexico's history
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2014 7:01 AM CDT
Nun Who Tamed Billy the Kid Vies for Sainthood
This undated photo provided by the Palace of the Governors shows Sister Blandina Segale.   (AP Photo/Palace of the Governors)

The woman once saluted as the "fastest nun in the West" is on the path to beatification. The cause of Sister Blandina Segale's sainthood has officially been declared open; it's the first time such a cause has been opened in the history of New Mexico's Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Michael Sheehan tells the Albuquerque Journal. Sister Segale isn't exactly your typical candidate, though. The Italian-born nun was known for "calming mobs of armed men" after she moved to the US and joined the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. In fact, before traveling to Santa Fe, she was even said to have befriended Billy the Kid in Colorado. When one of her students reportedly told Segale a member of Billy's gang had been shot by an outlaw, she cared for the man, even as four doctors apparently refused.

When Billy came to town bent on scalping the doctors, Segale talked him out of it, received his thanks, and later visited him in jail, the New Mexican reports. On another occasion when he met the nun in a stagecoach—terrifying her traveling mates—he simply bowed before riding away. Segale also set up numerous schools and hospitals, worked with the poor and sick, and advocated on behalf of Hispanics and Native Americans, the AP reports. But her canonization process could take years—or even generations. The Vatican must investigate the nun's work and monitor any apparent "miracles" that may be related. "We hope and pray the process goes quickly," Sheehan said. (In terms of Billy the Kid, this may be just the second photo of him ever found.)

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