28 May 2009

At Mayo

About a month ago, I visited the Mayo Clinic. I had been there once as a teenager, accompanying my mother and aunt who were bringing their aunt to the Mayo for a leg amputation, necessitated by complications from diabetes.

For its size, the Mayo Clinic runs like clock-work. It was huge and impressive.

Awhile back, I believe it was Ray who posted about local saints. The belief is that a saint picks you, you don't pick them.

In the time we had before my appointment, we wandered into the history museum on the lobby level of the clinic. I was lost in my thoughts, while my husband, in his typical curious-engineer fashion, was busy reading all the information about the Mayo brothers and how the clinic came into being. Near the back of the display, as I was aimlessly pacing and not really absorbing any of the information, I came face-to-face with a picture of Dr. Giancarlo Rastelli -- our local saint in the making.

Cardiac Surgery Researcher -- Giancarlo Rastelli, M.D., a Mayo Clinic physician who developed a cardiac procedure for congenital heart disease among children, is being considered for beatification, the first step toward sainthood.

The late Dr. Rastelli died of cancer in 1970 at age 36. He was educated in Italy and came to Mayo Clinic in the 1960s. He was appointed head of cardiovascular surgical research at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, at age 34. He conducted his research in cardiovascular surgery at Mayo during the 1960s and developed Rastelli 1 and Rastelli 2, procedures credited with saving numerous lives of children with heart disease. He was awarded two gold medals by the American Medical Association and did a great deal of his research while suffering from Hodgkin's disease.

Dr. Rastelli displayed a poster with the Italian saying L'Amour Vince (which translates as "Love Always Wins") in his office. Many patients signed the poster as an expression of hope and appreciation.

In an article appearing in the official diocese newspaper, Diocese of Winona Bishop Bernard Harrington wrote that Dr. Rastelli's efforts allowed "thousands of children to live who would probably not have survived." Bishop Silvio Bonicelli of Parma, Italy, is leading the effort to have Dr. Rastelli canonized. A proven miracle must be recognized for beatification. To be a saint, a second proven miracle must be presented and verified.

The process could take years. Bishop Bonicelli submits documents to the cardinals and bishops at the Vatican for consideration. And "you wait for an actual miracle to take place" after someone prays to Dr. Rastelli, Harrington said in a story in the Star Tribune newspaper of Minneapolis.

Monsignor Gerald Mahon of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Rochester, where Dr. Rastelli was a parishioner, said he sees the possibility of Dr. Rastelli being beatified as a sign of hope. "This person worshipped and walked these streets where I walk. It means something becomes more possible, more real, for me," he told the Post-Bulletin newspaper in Rochester.

Maybe it's because I'm Catholic and knew of Dr. Rastelli's story, but as I came around the corner of the display and saw his photo, listing his many medical contributions for the 50th anniversary of the cardiopulmonary bypass and cardiac surgery at the Mayo, I felt a sense of comfort. Wishful thinking perhaps? Something familiar in a strange place? I don't know, but from that moment on, I've asked for Dr. Rastelli's intercession.

On the wall across from the display with the information on Dr. Rastelli, was a place for people to sign a placard for the 50th anniversary. People's comments were typically, "Mayo rocks" or "Thank God for the Mayo." These types of things usually are a turn off for me. What sort of person signs these things anyway?

I did. Disregarding the syrupy, but probably heart-felt compliments others had signed to the Mayo on the placard, I instead wrote the personal, "Dr. Rastelli, Intercede for me."

Hopefully, if the placard is stored in the Mayo archives and is brought out in another 50 years to commemorate the 100th aniversary, Dr. Rastelli will have been canonized and maybe I will be in a place to know for certain if Dr. Rastelli "picked me."


mum6kids said...

Well I hope he does!
Say a prayer for my son too will you. He is just getting to grips with having type 1 diabetes and I am worried about his future-amputations and the like.
I know I shouldn't worry, should trust...but I always did struggle with that one.

God bless you and sorry but I just have this vision of you in prayer jumping up and down shouting "PICK ME! PICK ME!" lol-ahem-sorry

swissmiss said...

Aw, mum, my father was a stoic German type. There are no public displays of emotion in my family!

Internally. Internally, my heart was jumping, hoping this incredible doctor's job in Heaven is to continue healing.

Aside from being considered for canonization, he was an incredibly smart man who accomplished a huge amount in his short life.

swissmiss said...

Oh, forgot to say, I will certainly keep your son in my prayers. Although my great aunt had diabetes, it isn't in my family otherwise. My husband's family is plagued by it with his grandmother, mother, aunt and cousin all having it. Prayers for you too. So hard to have a sick child.

Caden said...

I think it's wonderful that Dr. Rastelli will be recognized in such a way! My son is a CHD survivor, and was most likely treated in a manner that Rastelli pioneered. Truly amazing!