Bishop Giuliodori presided at the first session of a diocesan tribunal into the matter in San Giuliano Cathedral, UCA News reports.
The tribunal’s main task is to hear witnesses to ascertain whether people considered Father Matteo Ricci a holy man during and after his lifetime and whether devotion to him still exists.
Father Ricci was born in 1552 in Macerata, Italy and died on May 11, 1610 in Beijing.
The tribunal session swore in officials including the new Postulator for the Cause, Jesuit Fr Tony Witwer. A historical commission has also been established to collect all writings and documents attributed to Father Ricci.
The commission will then make a study and evaluation of his works and transmit its verdict to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.
The beatification process for the famous Italian Jesuit missioner to China was re-launched in Macerata, the city of his birth, by the local bishop on Jan. 24.
The canonization process was first opened in April 1984 and the diocesan phase concluded on April 13, 1985.
Matteo Ricci was then declared a “Servant of God.” For several reasons, however, the process lost impetus but Bishop Giuliodori has taken renewed interest in the cause.
Last October, he told UCA News he hopes this new phase will rapidly lead the Church to recognize the “missionary genius and spiritual stature” of Father Ricci and beatify him.
Bishop Giuliodori will lead a pilgrimage from Macerata to Beijing in July to pray at the priest’s tomb.
On Feb. 6 an exhibition will open in Beijing to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the priest’s death.
It is entitled, “Matteo Ricci: the Encounter of Civilizations in China of the Ming” and will move to Shanghai on April 2, and Nanking on June 4.
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