It would be a pretty tough thing to gauge the sincerity of a priest from the hinterlands who says he's moved by a saint that no one knows anything about. On the other hand, all he's asking for is the bones of a saint that no one knows anything about. Then again, what's he going to do with the bones? Is he just trying to put his one-horse village (well, fewer than 3,000 people, anyway) on the map?
|There's no telling what she really looked like.|
In 1835, a young French girl named Pauline Marie Jaricot, dying of a heart ailment, heard a message to "Go to Philomena." En route to Mugnano, she paid a visit to Pope Gregory XVI, who whispered a prayer to her, asking her to repeat it when she got to heaven. In reply, she asked if he would begin formal canonization of Philomena if she (Pauline) stopped by the Vatican as she was walking home from Mugnano. Recognizing that the young girl was a death's door, he readily agreed.
|Pope Gregory XVI|
I can understand His Holiness making that promise to a dying girl, especially in the rational nineteenth century. If he was weighing his options, he either offered comfort to a sick girl (his job) or he got a new saint in the Canon (also his job).