By Kier Edison C. Belleza
Carcar City, Cebu — Almost three decades after his death, the remains of Cebuano Archbishop Teofilo Camomot, a candidate for sainthood, was exhumed Wednesday for their eventual transfer to a new tomb in Barangay Valladolid here.
Fr. Samson Silloriquez, the Rome-based postulator of the cause of Camomot’s sainthood, said only bones remained of the body.
Forensic experts, led by Dr. Erwin Erfe a forensic consultant for the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), cleaned and varnished the bones so they could be preserved.
“The experts counted the bones, they had put them together. Afterwards, the bones, except for the longer ones, were placed in an urn,” Silloriquez told reporters Wednesday night.
He said a part of the remains was selected as a relic that could be used during his beatification and canonization. “We cannot use the relic yet since he has not been declared a saint. These will be kept so that there will be no need to exhume it again,” said Silloriquez.
The procedure, which was done in private to keep its solemnity, took about nine hours.
Silloriquez said the forensic team found cracks in Camomot’s skull and that some of his bones had been shattered, a result of apparent injuries Camomot incurred in the car accident that killed him in September 1988 in the neighboring town of San Fernando.
The Rome-based postulator said Camomot’s skull, along with the rest of his bones, were placed inside a wax figure of the prelate, who was known for his exceptional love for the poor.
Farley Meredores, a sculptor from Bohol, made Camomot’s wax effigy.
At around 7 p.m., hundreds of devotees accompanied the glass-encased image as it was transferred to the Domus Teofilo (House of Teofilo) museum, about a hundred meters from his former tomb.
The remains were then placed at the center of the chapel inside the museum, which houses his personal belongings and writings, for public viewing until Thursday afternoon. These were interred shortly after.
In November, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in the Vatican gave the green light for the second phase of Camomot’s beatification and canonization.
The diocesan documentary, which is the first phase of the canonization process, included the archdiocese’s gathering of testimonies about the life and virtues of Camomot. This phase, which could take years, ends with the decision of a diocesan tribunal on whether the candidate for sainthood could move on to the next stage.
In Camomot’s case, “the result came out so fast – seven months after its submission,” Fr. Mhar Balili, vice postulator of the cause of the late prelate’s sainthood said in November.
The results, along with the bound volumes of documentation, or “Acta” (Acts), were then communicated to the congregation.
The congregation’s approval of the validity of Camomot’s sainthood also meant that the cause would now move to the roman stage.
In this phase, the Acta is committed by the congregation to a relator appointed from among the Congregation’s College of Relators.
Working with a theological commission established by the congregation, the relator would have to ensure that the “positio,” or a dissertation summarizing the life and virtues of the candidate is properly prepared.
When the positio is completed, the theological commission will vote on the cause which would then be passed to the cardinal, archbishop and bishop members of the congregation who will have also to vote.
If the vote is yes, the recommendation of a Decree of Heroic Virtues will be sent to the Pope for final judgment.
One miracle is needed for Camomot’s beatification. “Another miracle is required for him to be canonized,” Balili said.