05/01/2004, 00.00
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Recovery of Filipino Child leads to Canonization of priest

Iloilo (AsiaNews) - When Blessed Hannibal Mary Di Francia, along with five other Blesseds, will be canonized by the Holy Father on May 16 at St. Peter's Square, Vatican City, it may be little known that one of the miracles attributed to him was that of the healing of a young Filipina child.Shortly after Charisse Diaz was born on January 28th, 1993 in Iloilo, southwestern Philippines, she contracted a fatal strain of bacterial meningitis which at that time was resistant to any known antibiotics. She suffered severe seizures and high fevers, and doctors feared she would be permanently brain damaged.  Despite all efforts to save the child, her doctors and parents, also both physicians, could only entrust the child to God through the intercession of Blessed Hannibal. With a relic of Blessed Hannibal, the family prayed a novena (nine consecutive days of prayer) fervently. Today, 11-year old Charisse has survived her ordeal and is one of the brightest pupils in her school.Her recovery was the object of a Church investigation led by the Archdiocese of Jaro, through a tribunal composed of top Church officials, to determine whether the girl's survival was a miracle attributed to Blessed Hannibal. In fact, after thoroughly researching the matter, the Church declared that the child had recovered through his intercession, and the incident became one of the three required miracles necessary for a holy person to officially be declared a "Saint" by the Roman Catholic Church. Blessed Hannibal was the founder of the Congregation of the Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus in 1897 in Italy, whose apostolate is to pray for vocations to the priestly and consecrated life in the Church. The Rogationists came to the Philippines in 1976 and presently has 44 priests, 39 of them Filipinos. They have established two centers for boys, one in the outskirts of Manila and another in Davao City in Mindanao. Their mission area is established in Zambales, northern Philippines, where they work with slum dwellers.

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