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Belgians on blessed mission

Ranchi, July 13: Roman Catholic Church officials from the Diocese of Burges, Belgium, in Ranchi now, today stressed they had started collecting evidence on the holiness of beloved Belgian missionary Constant Lievens that could pave the way for his beatification.

Dubbed Apostle of Chotanagpur, Lievens was only 37 when he died of tuberculosis in 1893, but not before he had indelibly marked himself on the hearts of tribals. Now, the Belgian team is here to collect evidence of a miracle that would lead to his beatification.

According to norms, one miracle — usually documented healing ascribed to prayers — is needed for beatification or official declaration that the person was “blessed”. A second is needed for sainthood.

“We have started talking to people to gather evidence on the holiness and relevance of Constant Lievens. He worked for Chotanagpur’s people and died for them,” Father Bakt Geryl, of the Diocese of Burges, appointed as postulator by the Roman Catholic Church to investigate into the life and times of Constant Lievens and guide the case for beatification, told The Telegraph.

He added they were trying to find out Lievens’ legacy and relevance by way of “discussions with priests, nuns and people at large”.

“We are collecting evidence on Lievens’ holiness and documenting the discussions at the same time,” Geryl said. “We hope to finish our work by year-end after which all the documents would be placed for scrutiny at the Vatican,” the postulator added.

Geryl is also leading a 25-member student delegation from Minor Seminary at Roselaire, Lievens’ alma mater in Belgium, on a tour of places in Jharkhand where he worked between 1885 and 1892.

Among them is Ine Lievens, a fourth-generation descendent of Henri, Lievens’ brother.

Ine has brought with her soil from her family farm at Moorslede, Belgium, Lievens’ birthplace. It was blessed by Cardinal Telesphore P. Toppo at a special Sunday evening Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, Purulia Road.

Toppo gave each student a tribal shawl at a get-together at Archbishop House, Ranchi.

Born on April 10, 1856, Lievens joined the Society of Jesus at Drongen on October 21, 1878. He arrived in Calcutta on December 2, 1880 and became a priest on January 14, 1883. He reached Ranchi in 1885. Here, he took up the cause of tribals exploited by landlords and defended them in court. Lievens contracted TB and on August 26, 1892, and left Ranchi for Belgium, hoping for recovery and return. But, he died at Louvain, Belgium, on November 7, 1893.


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