Old West nun on path to sainthood

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has announced it’s exploring sainthood for an Old West nun who challenged outlaws and helped establish hospitals and schools in the New Mexico territory.

Archbishop Michael Sheehan announced Wednesday he’s been given the go ahead by the Vatican to open the “Sainthood Cause” for Sister Blandina Segale. Sheehan said that in itself is historic, as it’s the first time in New Mexico’s 400 year history with the Roman Catholic Church that they have a person that is being considered to be a saint.

Italian-born Segale came to America as a child. A nun with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, she worked in Colorado, New Mexico and Ohio. Segale acted as an advocate for Hispanics and Native Americans. She also helped establish hospitals and schools; the convent she had built in Old Town Albuquerque still bares her name.

Her run-ins with outlaws was even the subject of an episode of CBS’s “Death Valley Days,” titled “The Fastest Nun in the West.”

Sheehan said his favorite story about Segale, though, has to do with her encounters with Billy the Kid. Sheehan said Segale had nursed one of the Kid’s friends back to health. Instead of then stealing from Segale’s stagecoach, Sheehan said, “He saw Sister Blandina, tipped his hat and rode away because he respected what she had done for his friend.”

Segale’s life is well-documented, which will help as the church gathers information.

Church officials say it’s a long path to sainthood, and it could be many years before Segale is declared a saint.

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