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Myanmar Church exults over upcoming beatification of its son


December 10, 2013 - A leading archbishop in Myanmar has hailed the upcoming beatification of the south-east Asian nation’s first native son as a sign of the Pope’ love for the Church in Myanmar, formerly Burma. "We are delighted to know that the first Burmese Blessed will be Isidore Ngei Ko Lat. The Holy Father is close to Myanmar and this first Blessed is the sign of Pope Francis and the Holy See's love and attention," said Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon. His remarks came soon after Pope Francis on Monday authorized a decree recognizing the martyrdom of Italian priest Fr. Mario Vergara of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME ) and Isidore Ngei Ko Lat, a lay catechist, martyred in Shadaw (Myanmar) May 24, 1950. The recognition of their martyrdom was among 12 decrees, including a miracle and 10 heroic virtues, that Pope Francis authorized. The other upcoming beatification is of 19th century Italian nun, Giovannina Franks, through whose intercession a miracle has been recognized. Speaking to AsiaNews, Archbishop Bo described the "great joy and happiness," of the Catholic community, caught by surprise by the long-awaited announcement. The journey began in May 2008, when the Catholic Bishops' Conference wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI to "humbly ask the Pope to authorize the study of the cause." The beatification of Fr. Vergara and his catechist, the bishops wrote, will be a source of " encouragement" for the whole community to live" a faith more in line " with the Gospel and to witness to it "in a brave and heroic" way, even at the cost of dying because of hatred for the faith and giving their lives "for the Gospel." Archbishop Bo said the Church in Myanmar is preparing to celebrate 500 years of history and hopes for a visit by Pope Francis to the country. He said that the beatification is a first step on a long journey and “there are many others", because they have many martyrs in Myanmar, who deserve sainthood. (AsiaNews)