By David Kerr
The death of British television legend Sir Jimmy Savile has re-ignited hopes for the beatification of the Scottish nun he always believed saved his life as a baby.
“I would hope that obituaries being written about Sir Jimmy’s life this week will also remind many people of the life of Venerable Margaret Sinclair and will encourage them to pray to her for more miracles, paving the way for her beatification,” said Monsignor Stephen Robson, vice postulator of her cause for beatification, in a Nov. 10 interview with CNA.
Eighty-four-year-old Sir Jimmy, who was buried today in the English seaside town of Scarborough, attributed his recovery from a serious illness when he was two years old to the intercession of the Venerable Margaret.
“My mother went to the cathedral in Leeds and found a leaflet about Margaret Sinclair and thought she would try that, so she prayed to her,” he told a BBC documentary in 2003. Sir Jimmy said he was so ill that his death certificate had already been written.
“At that moment I apparently took a 100 percent turn for the better and when she came back to the house, my grandparents said I was all right.”
“The priest from the cathedral and the doctor wrote this up and sent it to Rome and it’s now in some room in the Vatican forming part of her CV to become a saint.”
Margaret Sinclair was born in 1900 and brought up in poverty in an Edinburgh slum. She worked in a local biscuit factory and was active in the trade union movement before joining a cloistered order of Poor Clare nuns in London’s Notting Hill area in 1923.
Upon becoming a nun, she took the religious name Mary Francis of the Five Wounds. However, she died just two years later from tuberculosis at the age of 25.
She quickly gained a reputation as “Edinburgh’s wonder worker” and was declared venerable by Pope Paul VI in 1978. The papal declaration means that the Church found she lived a life marked by virtue.
Despite numerous claims of a miracle, such as Sir Jimmy’s, none have fully satisfied the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. If a miracle is approved, it would pave the way for her beatification.
“The cause can’t go any further till we have that miracle, so people need to get praying,” explained Msgr. Robson, who is based in the Scottish town of North Berwick.
“The problem is, I think, that for many Scots—and perhaps northern Europeans in general—the cult of saints isn’t a live reality, so it can be difficult to get people to pray.”
Sir Jimmy Savile was known to generations of people in the United Kingdom as a disc jockey and ceaseless charity fundraiser. For decades, he presented the BBC’s popular music program, “Top of the Pops,” as well as hosting his own show “Jim’ll Fix It,” which featured him making dreams come true for hundreds of children.
A devout Catholic and papal knight, he would frequently attend weekday Mass at St. Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds, where his requiem took place yesterday.
“Today, Jimmy lies at the front of this cathedral where in former years he had remained discreetly hidden at the back in order not to disturb people’s prayers or distract their attention from what was taking place at the altar,” said Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds before a congregation of over 700 mourners.
In his homily, Monsignor Kieran Heskin said that he hoped God would “fix it that Jimmy would be given the ultimate reward—a place in heaven.”
A self-professed eccentric to the end, Sir Jimmy was buried Nov. 10 in the coastal town Scarborough in a gold colored coffin and at a 45 degree angle—“to give him a view of the sea”—fulfilling his final wishes.