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'Fastest Nun in the West' on path for sainthood

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Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:09 pm | Updated: 3:45 pm, Wed Jun 25, 2014.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Archdiocese of Santa Fe is exploring sainthood for a Italian-born nun who challenged Billy the Kid and later helped open New Mexico territory hospitals and schools.

Archbishop Michael Sheehan is scheduled to announce Wednesday that he has received permission from the Vatican to open the "Sainthood Cause" for Sister Blandina Segale.

Church officials say it's the first time in New Mexico's 400-year history with the Roman Catholic Church that a decree opening the cause of beatification and canonization has been declared.

Segale, a nun of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and an advocate for Hispanics and Native Americans, founded schools in New Mexico and St. Joseph Hospital.

Her encounters with Old West outlaws later became the subject of a CBS series "Death Valley Days" episode, "The Fastest Nun in the West."

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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