DIPOLOG CITY -- The cause for martyrdom of Mindanao's Servant of God Francesco Palliola, SJ now moves to the Vatican, following the closing today of the diocesan phase of the process.
In Vatican, the Office of the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of Saints will look into the case of the Italian Jesuit killed as a missionary in Ponot, Zamboanga del Norte, in 1648.
Depending on the outcome of the Vatican phase, the Naples-born Palliola could be on track to be the first saint from Mindanao -- and the first martyr to have worked and been killed in the Philippines.
Most Reverend Severo Caermare, DD, Bishop of Dipolog, presided over the closing ceremony held at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral in this city.
Born into nobility, in the town of Nola in Naples, Italy, on May 10, 1612, Fr. Palliola joined some 40 Jesuits on an expedition to the Philippines. After a trip of over two years, he landed in Iligan on January 2, 1644 and started a mission in Mindanao that took him to Dapitan, Dipolog and the rest of the Zamboanga Peninsula, spreading the Catholic faith to the locals, including the Lumads of the area, the Subanen.
Fr. Palliola was martyred at Ponot, now Jose S. Dalman town, on January 29, 1648 by Tampilo, a converted Subanen leader who had left Catholicism, and who the priest was trying to bring back to faith. He died at the age of 35.
According to Bishop Caermare, the life and lessons of Fr. Palliola are relevant to the people today, almost 370 years after his death:
"Fr. Palliola is an inspiration to Filipinos everywhere: just as we do today here in the Philippines or as OFWs abroad, he dealt with inter-cultural and inter-faith relations -- even under the threat of violence --yet he went on his mission of sharing God's Word in the spirit of understanding and love," Bishop Caermare said.
Though killed by a Subanen, Fr. Palliola's memory has been kept alive by the oral tradition of the Lumads who regularly visit the site where he is believed to have died. Lumad and Christians alike continue to ask for his intercession and healing when they visit.
Bishop Caermare said they are hopeful of Fr. Palliola's cause.
"Padre Palliola may have been Neapolitan, an Italian by birth, but his love for God, his great passion for mission and caring for the people of the Zamboanga Peninsula, particularly the Subanon Lumad, made him truly Mindanaoan," he said. (PR)