Lucena’s first bishop now a step closer to sainthood

Paterno Esmaquel II
Pope Francis declares Bishop Alfredo Maria Obviar of Lucena, Quezon, as 'venerable'

CLOSER TO SAINTHOOD. Bishop Alfredo Maria Obviar of Quezon is declared 'venerable.' Photo from alfredomaobviar.wixsite.com

MANILA, Philippines – The first bishop of Lucena, Alfredo Maria Obviar, is now a step closer to sainthood after Pope Francis recognized his heroic virtues, the Vatican announced on Thursday, November 8.

Obviar is now “venerable” – which means he is two steps away from being declared a saint.

The Vatican said Pope Francis on Wednesday, November 7, authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree, among others, on “the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Alfredo Maria Obviar, first bishop of Lucena and founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Catechists of Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus.”

Obviar was born in Lipa, Batangas, on August 29, 1889. He died in Lucena, Quezon, on October 1, 1978.

Obviar “displayed an extraordinary charism for organizing catechists as well as for teaching catechism most especially to the old folks, according to a website devoted to his cause for sainthood.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) lists 3 basic steps to sainthood: “a candidate becomes ‘venerable,’ then ‘blessed,’ then ‘saint.'”

“Venerable” is “the title given to a deceased person recognized formally by the Pope as having lived heroic virtues,” the USCCB said.

“Blessed” is the title given to a “venerable” who helped produce at least one miracle through his or her intercession. The Catholic Church officially considers a person as “blessed” in a ritual called beatification.

To ensure that each reported miracle is divine intervention, the Vatican subjects them to stringent scientific and theological examination.

If a second miracle is attributed to a “blessed,” the “blessed” becomes a “saint.” The Pope officially lists a person as a saint in a ritual called canonization.

The Philippines has two saints: Lorenzo Ruiz, who was canonized in 1987, and Pedro Calungsod, canonized in 2012. – Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.