05/23/2005, 00.00
PHILIPPINES
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Mother Rosario Arroyo, a Dominican nun, is closer to beatification

Evidence of miracles by the founder of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary, who is a distant relative of current Filipino President Gloria Arroyo, is growing.

Iloilo City (AsiaNews/UCAN) – Overcoming aneurism, leukemia, and cancer are among the first documented miracles attributed to Mother Rosario Arroyo, founder of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary, a Filipino congregation.

Members of the congregation are hoping that appeals answered in the name of their founder might increase and thus facilitated the process of beatification of the nun who died in 1957.

In Molo (near Iloilo City), where the congregation is headquartered, Sister Eleanor Garlito explains that the "first known miracle" attributed to "Mother Sayong" as she is called occurred in 1983 when a Manila woman, Angela Palma, was diagnosed a cancer.

Ms Palma, who is originally from Iloilo (about 450 km south-east of Manila), is devoted to Mother Sayong. She began to pray to her in order to be cured and, to the surprise of her doctors, lived another 20 years, till 2003.

In May 2004, Sister Maria Nemia Daral, a Dominican nun in the same congregation, developed an aneurism. She was flown to Manila for an operation, but before she could go into the operating room, another nun gave her a 'bendico', i.e. a piece of Mother Sayong's veil, wrapped in a plastic envelope and asked her to pray to the Mother.

Sister Daral, who is the principal of the St Joseph Academy in Bugasong, a province that borders Iloilo, is now in perfect health, very active, and no longer taking any medication.

The latest miracle involves a poor woman called Dalumpines who was diagnosed with leukemia.

According to Sister Garlito, the woman was "miraculously cured"—last April, she was found disease-free without undergoing therapy or blood transfusions as prescribed by her doctors.

Sister Garlito is one of the six members of the Commission documenting the miracles attributed to Mother Sayong. The Commission's work is crucial for opening the cause for beatification. All the evidence is in fact collected and then sent to the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints which vets it in so far as it can be attributed to the candidate's intercession. If it is determined that a miracle has taken place, the candidate is beatified and becomes a "blessed".

Lat February 9, Mgr Angel Lagdameo, Archbishop of Jaro, gave his blessing to the Commission on Mother Sayong. He also authorised the publication of a prayer to Mother Sayong originally approved by the Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission.

Mother Sayong, whose real name was Maria Beatriz del Rosario Arroyo, was born in a rich Molo family in 1884. Her father was a town leader and her mother was of Spanish-Filipino descent.

Whilst she entered Religious life, her two brothers established the family in politics. José Miguel Arroyo, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's husband, is one of her grandnephews.

Mother Sayong founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines on February 18, 1927.

She died of heart failure in 1957 and was buried in Molo cemetery.

Her body was exhumed 18 years later in 1975 so that it could be moved to a crypt in the congregation's motherhouse. When her coffin was opened, the nuns found the body still intact.

The motherhouse stands on a hectare of land donated by Madre Sayong's parents.

The 2004 Catholic Directory of the Philippines lists the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary as having 271 members, one of whom is not Filipino.

The nuns run 31 schools, two colleges, two retreat houses, a charitable institution and a clinic.

Another 40 or more sisters work in foreign missions.

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