Cause of beatification for missionary to Mindanao tribal , Fr. Palliola, opens

The Neapolitan Jesuit arrived in the Philippines in 1644 and was killed four years later by a tribal chief who had distanced from the faith. Bishop of Dipolog: "He was a true son of Mindanao, he had a passion for the people of Lumad". PIME missionary: "His story is handed down from father to son in the tribes. We hope he will be proclaimed a saint in 2021, the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of the Philippines ".

Manila (AsiaNews) - Yesterday the diocesan process of beatification and canonization began of Fr. Francesco Palliola, Neapolitan Jesuit priest, missionary for the tribals of Mindanao, who was killed in 1648. The process officially began yesterday, with a Mass celebrated in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Dipolog (Zamboanga province), in the place where the missionary did most of his preaching.  

The bishop of the city, Msgr. Severo Caermare, had announced the cause of beatification on 9 January with Fr. Patrick Dalangin, who is the official postulator. If the trial proves successful, he will be the third saint (adopted) for the Philippines - after St. Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila and San Pedro Calungsod of Cebu - and the first to come from Mindanao. The island is the largest Islamic majority zone in the country, the scene of past civil wars the scars of which are still visible.

Born in 1612 into a noble family of Naples, Francesco Palliola is part of a group of 40 Jesuit missionaries who landed in the Philippines in 1644. The priest began his preaching in Mindanao, in the Zamboanga peninsula, spreading the Gospel among the local populations, including tribal Subani Lumad. During the Mass, Msgr. Caermare, said: " Father Palliola was a Neapolitan, Italian by birth, but his love for God and his great passion for the care of the people of Zamboanga, in particular of the Lumad, make him a true son of Mindanao".

Fr. Pilliola was killed in Ponot on January 29, 1648 by Tampilo, a converted indigenous leader who had abandoned the faith, and whom the priest was trying to bring back into the Church. In a statement released by the diocese of Dipolog, which deals with the cause of beatification together with the Jesuits and the Augustinians, it is written that "his grave, marked by a small memorial, is regularly visited by those who seek his intercession.

The opening of the beatification cause "is good news - comments Fr. Sebastiano D'Ambra, PIME missionary in Zamboanga - and is a major boost for the mission in Mindanao. The Jesuits have a very important story in the Philippine Church ". "In 2021 – continues Fr. D'Ambra - there will be a great celebration for in the Philippines the 500 years since the beginning of evangelization in the country. It would be nice if Fr. Palliola could be declared just blessed or saint on that occasion. "

The history of the Jesuit missionary, he explains, "is still passed down from generation to generation among the tribes of Mindanao: I heard about it for the first time in 1977. They still speakl of those Jesuits who were the first to reach them to announce them Gospel".