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Rome, Italy, Jul 20, 2019 / 04:36 pm (CNA).- A little over 100 years ago, the Catholic Church’s first Filipino-born bishop died while on a visit to Rome. Now, a group of Filipino priests are on the hunt for his remains.
The search for Bishop Jorge Imperial Barlin’s bones began several years ago. Written records show he was buried in the Dominican mausoleum at the Campo Verano cemetery in 1909. But in the intervening time, the marker for the bishop’s tomb has been lost. Barlin was staying with Dominican brothers at the time of his death.
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“Unfortunately, at the moment we cannot locate where he is buried,” Dominican Fr. Gerard Timoner told CNA.
Timoner, who was recently elected head of the Dominican Order, described himself as a “middle-man” in the process for finding Barlin. A Filipino, he is helping to serve as liaison between the Dominicans and the Filipino seminary in Rome.
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At the time of his death, Barlin was leader of the Archdiocese of Nueva Caceras, which has asked permission, if Barlin’s remains is found, to bring them to the Philippines to be interred in the cathedral. The cemetery and the Dominicans have both given permission for this to take place.
The search is taking place, in part, because of an important anniversary in the life of the Church in the Philippines. The year 2021 will mark the 500th anniversary of Catholicism in the Philippines. The first Mass, and the first Baptism, took place in 1521.
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Though Barlin is a significant figure for the Church in the Philippines, he is “not that well known, except in the region [he came from],” Timoner said, though “Jorge Barlin is very important because he was the first Filipino bishop.”
“And for many years, hundreds of years of evangelization, actually, the Philippines remained a missionary territory in the sense that...
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