Fr. Agnel de Souza died at Rachol Seminary on 20th November 1927. In his life itself, the fame of his sanctity was already spreading. As a staunch preacher of the divine word, spiritual director of Rachol Seminary, austere with himself yet generous to help others, he had attracted the reverence and admiration of all those he came in contact with. Soon after his death the fame of his sanctity spread far and wide. Written petitions were sent from various quarters, beginning with Rachol Seminary professors and students, requesting the Patriarch of Goa to initiate his processes of beatification. Hardly 10 years after his death, the Municipal Chambers of Panjim held a public demonstration dedicated to his memory (11-12-1937). As he was a member of the Pilar Society, his bones were transferred to Pilar on 10-1-1939.
By 1947 a Postulator for the Cause of his beatification was appointed in Rome and a Vice-Postulator in Goa. A Diocesan Tribunal for the first Process of Fr. Agnelo was appointed by the then Coadjutor Archbishop of Goa, D. Jose Alvernaz, and a notification was published authorities the collection of all writings attributed to Fr. Agnelo on 7-2-1953. But due to unavoidable circumstances the Tribunal after assumption of office, could not hold its sessions.
The Process on his writings
The appointment of a new Postulator in Rome and a new Vice-Postulator in Goa, led to the resumption and acceleration of the Processes from March 1956. A new diocesan tribunal was constituted by Patriarch D. Jose’ Vieira Alvernaz on 13-4-1956 which assumed office the next day. Again two notifications were published ordering the collection of writings of the servant of God. The writings collected were presented to the tribunal consisting of three ecclesiastical judges on 19-7-1956. Two Revisor Theologians appointed by the Sacred Congregation of Rites gave their favorable and eulogistic opinion on the said writings, that they did not contain anything against the faith and morals on the contrary, were conducive to noble Christian life and ideals. The first Process therefore sailed through smoothly, getting the approval of the same Congregation on 27-5-1958 and the final approval of Pope Pius XII on 29-5-1958.
The Process of Fame of Sanctity, Virtues and Miracles
The second Process, the longest among all the process was started when at the request of the Vice-Postulation, the Patriarch D. Jose’ Alvernaz, instituted the tribunal consisting of 3 ecclesiastical judges who assumed office on 16-8-1956. 3 Years and 2 months were spent in hearing 28 witnesses from all walks of life, who had seen, heard or lived with Fr. Agnelo in his lifetime. The tribunal met every Thursday, week after week, and finally the process was closed and sealed to be sent to Rome on 1-10-1959. Meanwhile Pope Pius XII appointed His Eminence Clement Cardinal Micara as Relator of the cause of Fr. Agnelo in Rome. The Process passed through the minutes scrutiny of the Tribunal appointed by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. It was finally approved on 9th July 1968 by the Sacred Congregation of Rites.
The Non-Public Veneration Process
The third and last diocesan process is called `De non-Cultu’. It has to establish that so far no public cult or veneration in any form has been given in the Church to Fr. Agnelo. The Tribunal for this Process was instituted by the same Patriarch on 19-11-1959 and it completed its work by 14-5-1960. Ten witnesses were examined and the Tribunal dislocated itself to examine in loco the room where Fr. Agnelo died in the Rachol Seminary, the Cemetery of Rachol, the tomb of Fr. Agnelo at Pilar and then passed a solemn judgment that, there has been no public veneration of Fr. Agnelo. The Process was sent to Rome on 5-6-1960. It was finally approved on 27th May 1969 by the Sacred Heart Congregation of Rites.
With this the diocesan processes were over. However, to start the Process in Rome there was need of postulatory letters from the Church hierarchy. These were sent to Rome by the two Indian Cardinals: Their Eminences Cardinals Gracias and Parekattil, the Patriarch of Goa, Archbishops and Bishops of India, Pakistan, East and West Africa as well as some European countries.
With the approval of the three diocesan processes, the ground was now clear to start the Apostolic processes by order and in the name of the Pope. These processes to be organised are generally two: (1) The Process of the fame of Sanctity and Miracles (2) The process of Virtues and Miracles in specie. However, the Holy Father Pope Paul VI benignly dispensed us from the first process which would be a repetition of the diocesan processes and only the Process of virtues in specie was organised in Goa. By mandate from the Holy See a tribunal composed of 6 ecclesiastical judges, 2 Sub-Promoters, 2 Notaries and a Cursor was appointed by the then Apostolic Administrator of Goa Archdiocese, Msgr. Francisco da Piedade Rebello. Bishop Raul Gonsalves was the President of the Tribunal. They assumed office on 8th October 1970. It took them three and half years to complete the Process. Witnesses gave concrete facts about the heroic virtues practiced by Fr. Agnelo in his lifetime. Finally the process was sealed and sent to Rome through the Pronunciature, New Delhi in May 1974. The process has so far been translated into Italian and has also been approved by the Theologians of the Sacred Congregation of the Canonization of Saints.
Process of Miracles
Fr. Agnelo is known as a wonder worker everywhere. Over 65,000 miracles and favours are reported from all over the world through the intercession of Fr. Agnelo, But most of these are not first class miracles which can be proved beyond doubt. One miracle is being studied at the diocesan level, and will shortly be forwarded to Rome.
The miracles required for his beatification and canonization are such that the cases must be authentic. X-rays and medical certificates are required to prove that there have been first class miracles. The cases must be abandoned by doctors who will testify that there is no human cure for such ills. Such a cure must be obtained solely through the intercession of Fr. Agnelo without seeking the help of other saints. All these documents, shall have to be then submitted to Rome and studied by a jury of eminent doctors. If they are approved as first class miracles, the way will then be clear for the beatification and canonization of Fr. Agnelo.
The making of any saint in modern times follows the normal process of ecclesiastical law as described above. It takes a very long time until the beatification and canonisation becomes a reality. This process is prone to think that any and everybody can be raised to the altar. Only the causes of men and women of proven virtue and fame of sanctity can pass the acid test of these innumerous processes. Yet the very fact that the diocesan processes were approved within a short time and the apostolic process has found a favorable response from Rome is a sure indication that the Pope and Apostolic See are very anxious to give India another saint from among the sons of her own soil. Earnest prayers are required and requested that all that remains may sail smoothly and the Archdiocese of Goa may have the honour of seeing another Indian saint on the altar.