An Italian-born educator and social worker known as the "fastest nun in the Wild West" and who was known for challenging frontier outlaw Billy the Kid could be a candidate for Sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has received permission from the Vatican to open the "cause for Sainthood" for Sister Blandina Segale, who was born in 1850 in Cicagna, Italy before her family immigrated to Cincinnati, Ohio. Segale entered the Sisters of Charity religious order in Cincinnati where she taught the poor before she was transferred to Santa Fe where she cofounded public and Catholic Schools and hospitals. Her encounter with Billy the Kid was told in the CBS series "Death Valley Days" episode "The Fastest Nun in the West" where she faced down the barrels of guns to find justice.
Sister Blandina is also responsible for helping Hispanic and Native Americans stand their ground and keep their homes when they were threatened by land swindlers. She is also known for saving a lost horse-drawn wagon of passengers during a winter blizzard.
The permission granted by the Vatican to open the cause of beatification is the first step in the process toward Sainthood in the Catholic Church. This marks the first time in New Mexico's Roman Catholic Church's 400-year history a decree opening the cause for canonization has been declared.
The cause for Sister Segale could take years if not decades before the Church counts her among the Saints as the Vatican has to investigate her earthly work and determine if any miracles can be attributed to her. Those miracles, according to an Archdiocesan spokesperson, could come in the form of healings or some other unexplained occurrences after those devoted to Segale pray to her.