A California woman believed to have had visions of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and other Catholic saints in the 1950s has moved closer to canonization as a saint.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved — via a voice vote Wednesday — to move ahead the sainthood cause of Cora Louise Evans, a convert and considered a Catholic mystic when she was alive. The vote is one step in a process that could take decades but moves Evans closer to beatification and canonization.
Evans was born to Mormon parents in Ogden, Utah, in 1904, and the Catholic Diocese of Monterey claims Evans began to have visions and messages from Jesus and the Virgin Mary as early as 3.
By 19, she was married in the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, but Bishop Daniel Garcia told the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last week that the wedding ceremony prompted Evans to distance herself from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A Catholic radio broadcast in 1934 would later draw her to the Catholic Church, Garcia said.
The broadcast made Evans conclude that a vision she had when she was 3 was that of the Virgin Mary, Garcia said, and she soon began learning about Catholicism until her conversion a year later.
After her conversion, Evans is also credited with influencing more than 1,000 Mormons to visit her church in Utah, leading to several conversions. But this also led to her allegedly being ostracized by former friends and family.
“Cora paid a high cost for her conversion,” Garcia told the bishops. “Her parents and extended family shunned her, and the local community deprived her husband of work.”
Evans’ husband was unable to find work and they decided to move to California, arriving in Southern California in 1941. In 1956, she and her family would move to Boulder Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
For 22 years after her conversion, Evans allegedly had a series of visions, and wrote “nearly three thousand pages” about her visions and thoughts about prayer and Catholicism.
“Despite her limited education, she presented complex Christological and soteriological ideas consistent with Catholic belief, but with new insights and a style accessible to the average reader,” Garcia said.
According to the Diocese of Monterey, Evans also experienced “stigmata,” unexplained wounds in the hands, feet, torso and head resembling those of Jesus during the crucifixion.
After her death in 1957, Garcia said several people have received “favors through her intercession,” although no miracles have been reported or recognized by the Catholic Church. When she was alive, Garcia said, a severely ill child is believed to have been cured by Evans.
More than 5,000 pages, called the “Acts of Inquiry,” have been studied by Catholic theologians studying not just Evans’ writings, but interviews with people who knew her and were influenced by her, said Michael McDevitt, who has been tasked to maintain Evans’ writings and is considered a promoter of Evans’ cause.
After the unanimous vote by U.S. bishops, the diocesan review of Evans’ case will be closed in January, McDevitt said, then forwarded to Rome to be reviewed and investigated.