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vlcsnap 2021 06 20 09h37m00s701June 25, 1859 - June 25, 2021, 162 years since Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac gave his life for Jesus, for the Mission, for the work of evangelization in Africa. A life and an example, which was, through a process of canonization initiated by his sons, the SMAs recognized by the universal church on October 10, 2019, as full of heroic virtues. Thus, making of this great servant of the mission a Venerable.
The then Servant of God, is for over a year now, Venerable Bishop Melchior de Marion Brésillac.
How did we come at this level of recognition? How is the Canonization process going? What remains to be done to achieve his beatification and canonization?

 

 I begin by saying how a process of beatification and canonization usually takes place. Above all, there must be a forma sanctitatis, that is to say that he who is destined to be beatified and canonized has a certain reputation of a holy person. With this, we can begin a real trial at the diocesan level to collect all the books, all the writings, all the correspondence, all that the person produced in his life as writings and correspondence and also all the testimonies that may be of help to recognize his holiness. After this first step, the documents are to be submit to the theologian censors; these theologians will give a first trial, whether the cause should continue or not. If it is to be continued, there will be another trial in which all possible witnesses imaginable will be called to testify on the holiness of the candidate and after that, the bishop or the superior general in the case of Bishop Bresillac, will have to give all the material collected, the copia pubblica as called to the congregation of saints. With that, begins a second trial at the level of the Catholic Church in Rome. Then all the material must be presented through the positio and here we have the positio that Fr. Bruno wrote for the Congregation of Saints. As you can see, it is a great work, quite voluminous. It is a thesis practically in which we must show that Bresillac is a saint, that he lived the theological virtues in a heroic way and with that all the virtues linked to faith, charity and hope.

This thesis has to contain copies of testimonies and the life of the saint has to be clearly written with documents backing it up. It is not just enough to talk about his life; it needs to be documented and it was not as easy as one might think; because there were a lot of oral materials. We didn't really have anything written down. If the positio is accepted by theologians and by the commission of bishops responsible for this, we have the first recognition. With this, the person becomes venerable. The Pope recognizes that there is nothing wrong in his life, in his writings, and that everything was done well, that he lived well and therefore the person can be considered as a venerable, as it is in the case of Bishop de Brésillac. After this, it takes a miracle to recognize that he is a blessed. We then ask God for a testimony through a miracle that Bishop de Marion Brésillac or another saint is really in paradise, that he is with him and that he can intercede for us.
If the miracle takes place the person becomes blessed; and after that a second miracle is requested for the canonization, always the sign of the presence of God in the life of the saint; so that he may be shown to the whole world as a saint to imitate, to live with and to be sure that by following him, we follow Jesus.
You may not know the difference between beatification and canonization: beatification is a recognition at the diocesan level; and canonization is a recognition of holiness at the universal level.

Where did the idea to start the cause for canonization come from and when did it start?

There is no precise date because it has been a long process. I was not the first postulator. The first was Bishop Bonfils, then he left because he had become bishop in France. It was Fr. Bernard Favier who continued. Then there was a void. And I came in, in 1998.
Before the war, in the 1860s, there were authorities in the SMA who were considering to lunch the cause of canonization.
The then superior general, Fr. Harrington had asked for advice but in the Vatican, they told him it was heavy, it was expensive, so he got discouraged. Then around 1980-1989, the general assembly gave its agreement for a consultation to be held to find out if the confreres were in agreement with the introduction of the cause of our founder. The consultation took place and the majority were in favor. Those who were not in favor were not, not because they did not consider Brésillac a saint, but because they said that it was expensive, that it will take a lot of time and that we have other more important things to do.
And from this consultation, we started the procedure.

We asked the Bishop of Freetown where Bishop De Marion Brésillac died to be able to introduce the cause here in Rome because for us, the SMA, it was easier to follow from Rome and to provide all records.
The bishop gave us the delegation, and the superior general, Harrington, gave the go ahead to introduce the cause here in Rome where there was the diocesan trial. Father Bruno and Father Bernard Favier collected all the material, all the writings, and all the testimonies regarding Bishop Marion Brésillac.
In the 90s the congregation of saints accepted and reviewed the diocesan trial. The congregation did another trial in which there were difficulties. For example, we had not clarified enough why Bishop de Marion Brésillac left India; why the caste issue was a problem for him and the other bishops on the contrary continued their mission in India. Father Bruno had to go looking again and respond in a correct, honest and precise manner for the cause to continue. Once this was completed, Fr. Bruno prepared all the positio for the theologians to give again their opinion. It was only on October 10, 2019, that the theologians unanimously recognized that Bishop de Marion Brésillac really lived a heroic life, a life of faith, charity and hope in a perfect manner.
Now I am working to print this relatio et rota of the theologians so that next October or November our cause can move to the level of the bishops and cardinals, who will give their opinion as well. And then I invite you once again to pray for a miracle through the intercession of Bishop de Marion Brésillac so that we can continue and arrive at the beatification and afterwards at the canonization.
On another note, when Pope Francis admitted the gift of Brésillac’s life as a cause for canonization, Father Bruno, prepared a little work on Bishop Brésillac and his first companions who gave their lives for the gospel. But, until now we have not used this document because things are going well and quickly enough. It is still here anyway, maybe one day we will need it to show that Bishop de Brésillac really gave his life, all his life for the evangelization in India and after in Africa. And as we know, his life bore fruit and we have been there for a century and a half to continue his work and to give also our lives for the evangelization in Africa.

Which project are you working on, at the moment?

I am following, as I told you, the publication of the vows veneratio e devota congressus speculiaris supervitutibus of the theologians. I am trying to print them and present this volume to the cardinals and bishops, that is the next stage; all this done we will only have to wait for the miracle, that's all. If all the bishops and cardinals say yes, we agree that Brésillac is truly worthy of being a saint, then all we have to do is wait for the miracle. If the miracle occurs, we will do another positio much smaller than this, on the miracle; To show how we prayed, how the miracle happened, and how the miracle has no human explanation, but that it comes directly from heaven.
If we want to continue the cause of Bishop Marion Brésillac, we really have to commit ourselves to pray for it; if not Brésillac will remain venerable throughout our long history and we will not have the joy of seeing his beatification and canonization. We have prepared rosaries and a new prayer for this purpose; and we will still prepare something so that SMA confreres and our friends can pray for the miracle. And the miracle I believe very strongly is nothing other than the fruit of our prayers.