The southern Philippine Diocese of Dipolog has launched the first step toward the beatification and canonization of an Italian Jesuit missionary murdered in Mindanao in the 1600s. The diocese began the process for the cause of martyrdom for Father Francesco Palliola on Jan 6. "Padre Palliola might have been Neapolitan, an Italian by birth, but he showed love for God and great passion for his mission and care for the people, particularly Subanen tribal people," said Bishop Severo Caermare of Dipolog. If declared a saint, Palliola could be the third from the Philippines after St. Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila and St. Pedro Calungsod
of Cebu, and the first from Mindanao. Diocese spokesman, Father Patrick Dalangin, said an investigation into the life and death of Palliola found the missionary was killed because he defended his Catholic faith. "He was killed because of the killer's hatred of the Catholic Church," said Dalangin, adding that the investigative process will continue to ascertain the authenticity of the Jesuit's life, the renown of his sanctity, and the miracles attributed to him. Born into nobility in Naples, Italy, on May 10, 1612, Palliola joined some 40 Jesuits on an expedition to the Philippines on Jan. 2, 1644, beginning a mission in Mindanao that would take him to the Zamboanga Peninsula. Tampilo, a Subanen tribesman, killed Palliola in the village of Ponot on Jan. 29, 1648, while the priest was trying to persuade the tribal leader to renew his faith. Tampilo has earlier been baptized a Catholic, but had left the church. Work on Palliola's sainthood has been a collaborative effort involving the Diocese of Dipolog, the Jesuits in the Philippines, and the Augustinian Recollects who had worked extensively in the Zamboanga Peninsula.