In what means the first step on the road to beatification, Pope Francis approved this Thursday the decree that recognizes the “heroic virtues” of the doctor French Jérôme Lejeune, a well-known anti-abortionist who in 1959 discovered the chromosomal abnormality that causes Down syndrome.
The geneticist had a good personal relationship with Pope John Paul II, who in 1997, during a pastoral visit to France, went to pray at his grave, located in the cemetery of the town of Chalo-Saint-Mars, fifty kilometers from the south of Paris.
Lejeune was born on June 13, 1926 in Montrouge (France) and died in Paris on April 3, 1994. Father of five children and a fervent Catholic, he was a leader of the anti-abortion movement and even raised judicial initiatives in the United States.
The chromosomal abnormality “Trisomy 21” discovered by Lejeune allows the early diagnosis of Down syndrome, but he always rejected the option of abortion to prevent the birth of children affected by this problem.
The path to holiness has several stages: the first is to be declared venerable servant of God, the second blessed and the third saint.
Venerable Servant of God is the title given to a deceased person who is recognized as “having lived the virtues in a heroic way.”
For a venerable person to be beatified, a miracle must have occurred due to his intercession, and for him to be canonized, that is, elevated to saint, a second miracle performed “by intercession” after being proclaimed blessed is necessary.