MANILA, July 19, 2013— A Filipino Catholic missionary has moved step closer to sainthood as the Vatican approved his beatification this year.
The Vatican has honored Franciscan Capuchin Father Jose Maria de Manila (Eugenio Saz-Orozco) as martyr and is set to be beatified in Tarragona, Spain on October 13.
After that, he will be known as the “Blessed Jose Maria de Manila.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Spain said the ceremony will be led by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, in behalf of Pope Francis.
But the pontiff may address via satellite from the Vatican those gathered for the occasion in Tarragona, they said.
The missionary was born in Manila of Spanish parents on September 5, 1880. He is the son of Don Eugenio Saz-Orozco, the last Spanish mayor of Manila and Doña Feliza Mortera y Camacho.
Fr. Eugenio Lopez, Provincial Minister of the Capuchin Philippine Province, said Father Jose’s baptismal certificate could not be produced because it was burned during the “Liberation of Manila.”
“But his school records from the UST (University of Santo Tomas) showed he is ‘natural de Manila’. All his biographies from Spain also showed he was born in Manila,” Lopez said.
Father Jose is among the 500 Spanish martyrs who died in the religious persecution of the 1930s who are awaiting beatification.
Lopez said included in this group are 32 Capuchins— among them 20 priests, and 12 lay religious brothers.
The Filipino martyr spent his initial years of education at the Ateneo de Manila University, San Juan de Letran and UST. He stayed in the Philippines until he was 16 years old after which, as was customary then, he pursued further studies in Spain.
Eventually, according to Lopez, in spite the objections of his parents he fulfilled his desire to become a Capuchin priest.
Records show that he had his simple profession in Lecaroz (Navarra, Spain) on October 4, 1905, his solemn profession on October 18, 1908 and was ordained a priest on November 30, 1910.
Lopez said Father Jose “remained a Filipino at heart” throughout his years in Spain, desiring to return to the Philippines to serve the local Church.
“Circumstances, however, prevented him to fulfill his dream of coming back to the land of his birth, yet he still offered his life for the Gospel he zealously preached in Spain and longed to proclaim in his native land,” he added.
On July 20, 1936 due to the savage acts perpetuated by anarchist and Marxist troops against the Christian religion and their ministers, several religious, including Father Jose, were forced to abandon their convents in Madrid.
It was on August 17, 1936 when the Filipino priest was executed at the gardens of the Cuartel de la Montaña, a military building in Madrid.
It should be noted that in cases of martyrdom the miracle required for beatification can be waived.
“For beatification of a martyr who died because of ‘odium fidei’ (out of hatred for the faith), a miracle is no longer needed,” said Lopez.
“But for canonization, a miracle is needed. So let’s start asking for his intercession,” he said.
Lopez said the Capuchins in the Philippines will start introducing and promoting the devotion to Father Jose in parishes across the country.
The Philippines currently has two saints– San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod. (CBCPNews)