Sainthood cause for Mindanao ‘martyr’ moves to Vatican

Sainthood cause for Mindanao ‘martyr’ moves to Vatican

Bishop Severo Caermare seals boxes of documents detailing the diocese’s investigation into Jesuit Fr. Francesco Palliola’s life of service during a solemn ceremony at the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral in Dipolog City, Sept. 14, 2017. ROY LAGARDE

By Roy Lagarde

September 14, 2017

Dipolog City

In time for the Dipolog diocese’s Golden Jubilee, the local phase of the path towards the canonization of a 16th century Italian Jesuit “martyr” came to an official close on Thursday, Sept. 14.

Bishop Severo Caermare formally concluded the diocesan phase of the inquiry into Fr. Francesco Palliola’s life at the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral in Dipolog City on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.

The ceremony was highlighted with the sealing of the tribunal’s documentation detailing the heroic virtues and martyrdom of Palliola.

Now that “the inquiry is definitively closed,” the diocese could transmit the documents to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.

Diocesan Postulator Fr. Patrick Dalangin said they will submit the cause to the Vatican by October this year for the “Roman Phase”.

Like other causes, the procedure involved in the process of canonization is potentially tedious as spelled out in the Apostolic Constitution “Divinus Perfectionis Magister” issued by Pope John Paul II in 1983.

“We have to pray,” Dalangin said. “We are so positive that we do this faithfully for the good of the Church.”

“Let us remain hopeful that the Pope will have an affirmative response to this effort of the local church of Dipolog that Fr. Palliola will become saint,” he said.

It took from January 2016 when his cause opened until now to complete the Diocesan Inquiry because of the volumes of materials that had to be studied.

For one, a number of documents, his writings and testimonies had to be gathered and examined.

(R-L) Bishop Severo Caermare with Fr. Patrick Dalangin and Fr. Leonilo Dagpin, the duly-appointed carriers of the documents to the Vatican, pose for a picture beside a replica of an 18th century oil painting of Fr. Francesco Palliola. ROY LAGARDE

The diocesan phase has been a collaborative effort involving people not just from the diocese but also the Jesuits, the Augustinian Recollects, and a number of lay volunteers.

Around 2,000 people gathered at the cathedral hoping that the country will have its third saint, and the first from Mindanao.

If the Roman process rules in favor of the cause which will be handled by the Jesuits in Rome, the pope may approve Palliola’s beatification, the last step for sainthood.

A miracle is not required prior to a martyr’s beatification, but one is required before his canonization.

Born into a noble family, in the town of Nola in Naples, Italy on May 10, 1612, Palliola was part of a 40-man Jesuit expedition to the Philippines.

After traveling for 2 years, he finally landed in Iligan on Jan. 2, 1644, beginning a mission in Mindanao that would take him to Dipolog and the rest of the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Palliola evangelized, lived and worked among the people of the region, including the indigenous Subanon lumad. He was martyred at Ponot, now Jose Dalman town, on January 29, 1648.

He was reported to care deeply for the people of Mindanao. To this day, his memory lives on in the area, passed on primarily by oral tradition, particularly among the Subanen – Christian and non-Christian alike.

The growing devotion to Palliola and reports of miraculous healings through his intercessions has spurred the diocese to push for the priest’s sainthood.