TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) – For the faithful, it was a celebration a century in the making to revere a nun-turned-saint from Indiana.

Hundreds flocked to St. Mary-of-the-Woods College outside Terre Haute on the 166th anniversary of Mother Theodore Guerin’s arrival in the frontier woods Sunday, one week after Pope Benedict XVI named Guerin a saint along with three others during services in Rome.

Guerin became the eighth U.S. saint and the first canonized since Sister Katherine Drexel in October 2000.

Among the visitors was Jim Fiorito of Chicago and his 24-year-old son, James.

Jim Fiorito had prayed to her during his son’s fight with leukemia and attributes his recovery to her help.

“I’m here to say thank you because he’s here,” Fiorito said, patting his son on the shoulder.

Guerin’s path toward sainthood began in 1909 and quickened earlier this year with the Vatican’s approval of a necessary second miracle attributed to her intercession.

Phil McCord, an engineer who manages the campus of Guerin’s Sisters of Providence order, had faced a corneal transplant but regained his vision in 2000 after praying for her help, the church said.

At the celebration, people strolled the grounds quietly or shopped at the gift shop, buying ceramic statues of Guerin, T-shirts, buttons and magnets decorated with her image.

Paula Howard, 52, a religion teacher from Greenwood, Ind., bought two statues and an armful of posters depicting Guerin holding a cross.

But she said the day’s meaning was about more than keepsakes.

“It’s about emulating someone in our lives, someone who was very ordinary who answered the call of God,” Howard said.

Weekend ceremonies honoring Guerin also included tours of the order’s grounds and the campus of St. Mary-of-the-Woods College, an all-women’s academy the French-born Guerin founded after she arrived in Indiana in 1840.

Guerin, who died in 1856 at the age of 57, remains a role model for women at the college and for people around the world who make pilgrimages to the Indiana woods each year to pray to her.


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