venerableA Filipino nun, who happened to be the great, great grandaunt of former first gentleman Mike Arroyo, is now a step closer to sainthood. This after Pope Francis has recognized the “heroic virtues” of Maria Beatrice Rosario Arroyo, declaring her as “Servant of God.”

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated the declaration on Wednesday. Arroyo was the founder of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary in the Philippines. According to the Dominican Sisters, Mother Arroyo was born on February 17, 1884 to a wealthy couple, Don Ignacio Arroyo and Doña Maria Pidal in Molo, Iloilo City. But despite her wealthy upbringing, the nun chose a life of poverty and devoted her life to the service of the poor.

At the age of 27, she entered the convent and donated her inheritance to the congregation. She was described to have “virtues of purity and innocence, deep simplicity and profound humility, and ardent love for the poor and needy.” With the help of two other Dominican nuns, Mother Arroyo created the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary. She died on June 14, 1957.

After being recognised as Servant of God, Arroyo now earns the title “venerable.”A person’s declaration as Servant of God signals the beginning of the long and meticulous process of his/her possible canonisation. Canonisation is the official act of the Catholic Church declaring that the person who has died was indeed a saint.

After the declaration of being a Servant of God, a miracle approved by the pope is required to pave the way for beatification. After the beatification rite, a person is now declared “Blessed.” But in case of martyrdom, meaning that the person died defending the faith, the miracle required for beatification can be waived.

A second miracle is required for eventual canonisation. Once the pope declared that the person was indeed a saint, he/she is included in the “canon” or list of saints recognised by the Church. So far, the Philippines have two recognised saints: Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila and Pedro Calungsod of Cebu.


Aside Maria Beatrice Arroyo other three new blessed and five newly venerable are among the decrees authorised by Pope Francis after the audience with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Among them Felice Tantardini (Introbio, Como, Italy, June 28 1898 – Taunggyi, (Burma) Myanmar, March 23 1991). He entered PIME at the age of 23 and was assigned to Burma, Myanmar, as a lay brother. He remained there for 69 years finding his death on 1991. Initially sent to Toungoo, he moved from mission to mission, wherever his skill as a blacksmith  and his ability to withstand fatigue was needed. In this way he builded churches, schools, parishes, hospitals, orphanages, always with a smile on his lips, always with a boundless love for Jesus and Mary.

The recognition of the erotic virtues of Brother Tantardini is a very significant fact for PIME: for the first time this act refers to the life of a lay missionary in PIME. And it comes the day after a special year that the institute wanted to dedicate to the figure of the lay missionaries “ad vitam”, who still today choose to adhere to the missionary charism of PIME.

“We have chosen Brother Felice as a reference figure, who has been in Myanmar from 1922 to his death in 1991, because he is a model of holiness and radical dedication to the cause of the Gospel,” said Father Ferruccio Brambillasca, Superior General of the PIME. The beatification process is also supported by the Burmese Christians who are still remembering him very well.

With the decree on the heroic virtues of Brother Felice Tantardini, a new page is added to the history of friendship that unites PIME with the Church of Myanmar. In the former Burma, where PIME arrived in 1868, the blessed Paolo Manna, Clemente Vismara and Mario Vergara, lived their ministry. And in this same country also Father Alfredo Cremonesi, who will be beatified next 19th of October in the diocese of Crema (Italy), lived his martyrdom.