On April 30, 2021, the Most Reverend Fernando Tarcisio FILOGRANA, Bishop of Nardò-Gallipoli, Italy, presided over Mass at the Shrine of Santa Maria dell Grotella located in the town of Copertino, in Italy’s Puglia Region. Those attending the Mass included the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Nicholas and St. Angelo in Italy (Puglia), Friar Vincenzo GIANNELLI; the friars of the local San Giuseppe da Copertino Friary; many priests; and the Mayor of Copertino, Professor Sandrina SCHITO. At the end of the Mass, a ceremony took place marking the inauguration, by the diocesan tribunal, of the cause of beatification of our confrere priest Friar Egidio MEROLA. Friar Egidio was born in Barra, Italy, on May 1, 1906. He died in Copertino, on January 6, 2002.

The bishop addressed the assembly, saying, “We start this process trusting in the Lord’s help. If it is His will, we shall have another humble friar who, in the wake of St. Joseph of Cupertino, will be raised to the honor of the altars.”
The process began with the Vice-postulator, Friar Donato GRILLI, delivering the written petition to the bishop. The petition received the positive opinion of the Bishops’ Conference of Puglia and the Holy See. All the members of the tribunal took an oath to maintain the secrecy of the investigation. The tribunal members are: the bishop’s Judge Delegate, Father Giuseppe PICA; the Promoter of Justice, Father Salvatore MARULLI, and two notaries, Gianluca POLO and Diego GRASSI.
The bishop and the vice-postulator also took the oath.
Witnesses may now be called to answer questions about the life and heroic virtues of our confrere. At the end of the diocesan phase, Friar Egidio shall be declared a Servant of God. Next, all the documentation on him shall be sent to the Congregation of Saints in Rome in view of Friar Egidio being declared Venerable. At that point, a miracle will be required before he can be declared Blessed or a Saint.
It was important that we start this journey, a journey that will lead us where the Lord wills as we wait submissively for the pronouncement of the Church who is our mother and teacher. In any event, it is nice to promote the story of our brother. He was a friar and a priest who lived a humble life, carrying out his apostolate by administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation and comforting the sick. He was an exemplary religious and a zealous priest. Our confrere, the Most Reverend Giuseppe PIEMONTESE, OFM Conv., Bishop of Terni-Narni-Amelia, said of him, “He performed the ordinary things of his life and vocation with all the commitment and dedication he had.”
All this made him a true “man of God”, an example for us friars and a witness for all the faithful to imitate.

Friar Donato GRILLI, Vice-postulator