Aversa (AsiaNews) - Catholicism has flourished in Myanmar from the blood of martyrs, said Card Angelo Amato at the ceremony of beatification of Fr Mario Vergara, PIME, and his catechist Isidore Ngei Ko Lat, first blessed of Myanmar, last Saturday at Aversa.
Pope Benedict XVI's decision to move the ceremony from Rome to the dioceses of origin of the blessed proved a wise choice. In Aversa, the cathedral was overflowing with people, and the many who could not get in watched the service outside on giant screens.
Card Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, co-celebrated the service with ten other bishops, two from Myanmar, Mgrs Sotero Phamo and Stephen Tjephe, respectively bishop emeritus and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Loikaw.
Some 200 priests from the Diocese of Aversa, from other dioceses in Italy and abroad attended the Mass. More than 100 seminarians from the Campania region were also present.
The delegation from the Diocese of Loikaw, where the martyrdom took place, included four priests, men and women religious and lay people.
Many members of PIME, to which Fr Vergara belonged, were also present, including its Superior General, Fr Ferruccio Brambillasca and many other fathers.
The celebration began with the postulator, Sister Carmelina Vergara, reading about the lives of the two blessed, which deeply moved those present.
This was followed by the proclamation of the beatification which, although conducted in muted words, elevated the spiritual ambiance.
The ceremony ended with the presentation of the relics, a token that always speaks to the sense of mercy of the people.
Card Amato's homily outlined some of the salient aspects of the blessed, highlighting how their sacrifice had a prodigious missionary effect, leading to "the flowering of Catholicism in Myanmar."
"Their crosses led to the growth of the tree of the Church, instilling in the baptised pride in their Christian identity and giving them renewed apostolic energy and witness," he said. "Blessed Isidore is the first fruit of the Church's holiness in Myanmar."
"The Diocese of Aversa is proud to have given birth to the Blessed Mario Vergara, a generous missionary who brought in a foreign land the most beautiful virtues of his people," he said in concluding. They include, "The Catholic faith, industriousness, missionary enthusiasm, goodness, and that attitude of respect and fraternity that so struck the locals."
After Mass, Mgr Angelo Spinillo, bishop of Aversa, highlighted the experience of Catholicity between the Church in Aversa and that of Loikaw.
Fr Brambillasca joined him in thanking those present and those who contributed to the success of the beatification.
The next day, in the evening, a Thanksgiving Mass was celebrated in Frattamaggiore, Blessed Vergara's birthplace, led by Mgr Spinillo in the presence of six bishops and more than 50 priests.
The service was held in front of the basilica of San Sossius, which was overflowing with people.
The president of the assembly focused on theme of martyrdom and testimony, embodied by the two blessed in their life and death.
During the offertory, members of the Loikaw delegation brought their gifts and at the end of the celebration, a priest offered Mgr Spinillo a painting depicting the symbols of their region.
The crowd of worshipers followed the ceremony with devotion and enthusiasm, expressing the joy of being able to count among its own natives sons a missionary who followed Christ and gave his life.
The day early, this enthusiasm was also evident in a show of fireworks, typical of the place.