'Sainthood ho!' for the Fastest Nun in the West?

Sr Blandina Segale from Cincinnati

The outlaw Billy the Kid knew when he had met his match. Realising that he'd bailed up the wagon of this feisty Cincinatti Sister of Charity, the notorious bandit just 'dipped his hat and left.'

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has announced it is exploring sainthood for this Italian-born nun who challenged Billy the Kid, calmed angry mobs, and helped open New Mexico territory hospitals and schools.

Archbishop Michael Sheehan said he has received permission from the Vatican to open the Cause for Sister Blandina Segale, an educator and social worker who worked in Ohio, Colorado and New Mexico.

It's the first time in New Mexico's 400-year history that a decree opening the Cause of beatification and canonisation has been declared, Church officials said.

'There are other holy people who have worked here,' said Allen Sanchez, Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops. 'But this would be a Saint (who) started institutions in New Mexico that are still in operation.'

Sr Blandina of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, came to Trinidad, Colorado, in 1877 to teach poor children and was later transferred to Santa Fe, where she co-founded public and Catholic schools. During her time in New Mexico, she worked with the poor, the sick and immigrants. She also advocated on behalf of Hispanics and Native Americans who were losing their land to swindlers.

Her encounters with Old West outlaws later became the stuff of legend and were the subject of an episode of the CBS series Death Valley Days. The episode, called The Fastest Nun in the West, focused on her efforts to save a man from a lynch mob.

But her encounters with Billy the Kid remain among her most popular and well-known Western frontier adventures.

According to one story, she received a tip that The Kid was coming to her town to scalp four doctors who had refused to treat his friend's gunshot wound. Sr Blanndina nursed the friend to health, and when Billy came to Trinidad, Colorado, to thank her, she asked him to abandon his violent plan. He agreed.

Many of the tales she wrote in letters to her sister later became the book, At the End of the Santa Fe Trail.

Read full article: 'Fastest nun in the west' Blandina Segale on path to sainthood (The Australian)


On this day: Sr. Blandina Segale, S.C. (National Catholic Reporter)

History of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinatti 

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