After Father Peter Mangum anointed a 98-year-old woman who had COVID-19, he couldn’t help but think of five French priests who sacrificed their lives to care for the sick through a yellow fever epidemic in the late nineteenth century.
“When I walk into the room I’m totally scrubbed up, mask, face shield. There she was sitting in a lazy boy chair and she offers me her hand. I’ve been told not to touch her but of course I reach down, took her hand and anointed her,” Mangum told Crux.
“When I left and went back to the rectory, I was struck by the fact that I had no way to give a free offering of my life in the situation. I had no fear I was going to die or catch whatever,” he continued.
The Shreveport priest then thought of Fathers Jean Pierre, Jean Marie Biler, François Le Vézouët, Isidore Quémerais and Louis Marie Gergaud – the French priests who came to Louisiana during the 1873 yellow fever epidemic.
“These (five priests) knew they were going to die,” Mangum said.
In May, Bishop Francis Malone of Shreveport wrote a letter to the Vatican to formally begin the process of making them Servants of God – the first step in the canonization process.
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