Smiling broadly, a French nun said Friday that she was inexplicably and suddenly "cured" of Parkinson's disease - a case that could prompt the Roman Catholic Church to beatify Pope John Paul II.
Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre stopped short of declaring her recovery a miracle, saying that was for the church to decide. But she said her life had "totally changed" since her symptoms vanished in 2005.
"For me, it is a bit like a second birth," the nun whose identity was long kept secret said at a news conference.
The 46-year-old, speaking in a clear, poised voice, said she was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2001. Her symptoms worsened with time: driving became practically impossible, she had difficulty walking, and her left arm hung limply at her side. She also could no longer bear to see John Paul on television, because he, too, was stricken - more seriously - with the disease.
When seeing him, "I saw myself in the years to come," she said.
Her cure came on the night of June 2, 2005, exactly two months after the pontiff's death, she said. In her room after evening prayers, she said an inner voice urged her to take up her pen and write. She did, and was surpassed to see that her handwriting - which had grown illegible because of her illness _ was clear. She said she then went to bed, and woke early the next morning feeling "completely transformed."
"I realized that my body was no longer the same," she said. "I was convinced that I was cured."
She said that has not taken medicine since.
Described by her colleagues as a gentle, reserved woman who had hoped to keep her identity under wraps, the nun coped well with the media spotlight. She looked a little bemused as journalists huddled around her, putting their microphones in place. Only once, when describing how her symptoms worsened after the pope died on April 2, 2005, did she momentarily lose a little of her poise.
"Please excuse me, I'm a little emotional," she said.
The Vatican's saint-making process requires that John Paul's life and writings be studied for its virtues. The Vatican also requires that a miracle attributed to his intercession be confirmed, before he can be beatified - the last formal step before possible sainthood.
The nun is expected to travel to Rome for ceremonies marking the second anniversary of the pontiff's death and the closure of a church investigation into his life. Pope Benedict XVI waived the customary five-year waiting period for the procedure to begin, clearly in response to popular demand that began with chants of "Santo Subito!" or "Sainthood Now!" erupting during John Paul's 2005 funeral.
There is still no word on when any beatification or canonization might occur.
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