Vatican investigates potential saint in Goa
Hopes are high for the confirmation of the first miracle attributed to the Indian priest
Mass inside a monastery dedicated to Our Lady of Pilar, which houses the mausoleum of Venerable Agnelo. His beatification process is moving along fast, according to a church official. (Photo by Bosco D’Souza Emerita)
Venerable Father Agnelo D’Souza is inching toward beatification now the Vatican has begun to look at a potential miracle cure attributed to his intercession, a church official said.
Father Hillary Fernandes told ucanews.com that Venerable Agnelo, who died in 1927, helped a 35-year-old woman with a "near-impossible" birth. The woman, who has miscarried three times, delivered a premature baby during the sixth month of her pregnancy. Both mother and child are safe, the priest said.
The family attributed the health of the mother and child to the intercession of Venerable Agnelo. Now his followers hope that this will be the mandatory miracle needed for Venerable Agnelo to be beatified.
Father Fernandes said his office receives thousands of letters from devotees of the priest detailing favors they received though his intercession. But favors cannot be regarded as miracles, "though for lay people they may appear to be miracles," the priest said.
He said the main challenge in pursuing the cause for beatification over the years has been the reluctance of doctors to give a written statement declaring that cures were beyond medical explanation, which is necessary for the Vatican to approve the miracle.
Venerable Agnelo was a member of the Goa-based Society of the Missionaries of St. Francis Xavier. People, including non-Christians, continue to flock to his tomb at Our Lady of Pilar monastery, turning it into a center for pilgrims.
Some 10,000 people attended the nine-day prayer session that precedes Father D’Souza’s death anniversary on Nov. 20, according to Father Fernandes, who added that the number of devotees has multiplied in recent decades.*
The popularity of Venerable Agnelo has spread to even Paris and London, where expatriate Goans promote devotion to him. Requests for the priest’s relics also come from Malaysia, Brazil and Singapore, according to Father Fernandes.
Watch this ucanews.com video on pilgrims at Our Lady of Pilar monastery
Goa and Daman Archdiocese, which covers the entire Goa state, has themed the 2016-17 pastoral year as "Inspired by Venerable Father Agnelo, let us witness to the Mercy of God."
If canonized, Venerable Agnelo will become the second saint from the state after St. Joseph Vaz, canonized in 2013. St. Joseph Vaz, who lived in the 17th century, evangelized in Sri Lanka and came to be known as the apostle of the island nation.
India has five saints; three of them were canonized in recent years. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was canonized this year while Sts Chavara Kuriakose and Euphrasia were canonized in 2014. Saint Alphonsa of Kerala was India's first woman saint, declared in 2008.
The first Indian to become a saint was Gonsalo Garcia, a Franciscan brother and missionary from the Mumbai region who was martyred in Japan. He was declared a saint in 1862, almost three centuries after his death in 1597.*
Beatification is one step on the path to sainthood. A candidate is first declared a "Servant of God" while their application is considered by the Vatican. If it is accepted, they become a "Venerable." A confirmed miracle is required to be beatified and a second one to be canonized.
*This paragraph has been corrected and updated.
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