Decades after Roberto Clemente became the first Latino to win the a World Series as a starter and receive a World Series MVP Award, it seems that fans are not yet done charting his legacy as the recent move to make him a saint gained fresh ground.
According to former pastor Richard Rossi, who is spearheading the endeavour, he received some good news with a letter from the Vatican through the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington DC, acknowledging his intent.
In 2013, Rossi wrote and directed a film about the life and works of Clemente, who died in a plane crash in 1972 while delivering relief goods to the victims of a massive earthquake in Nicaragua.
On the film's Facebook page, Rossi shared a photo of the letter with the caption: "Received letter today from Pope Francis through his U.S. Vatican representative supporting our movie 'Baseball's Last Hero: 21 Clemente Stories.' He let us know we're on the right track in our talks with the Archbishop of San Juan because that is where Roberto Clemente died. Getting a letter from the Vatican doesn't happen every day."
In his interview with CharismaNews, Rossi shared that during the course of the film, he was able to learn about a different side to the Pittsburg Pirates right fielder, including his religious and humanitarian works, including potential "miracles" that may fuel the move for his sainthood.
Rossi said they are basing their petition on the stories of people whose lives were affected by Clemente's "healing touch." He added that they are in the process of verifying the "miracles" using scientific methods to ensure that the Vatican will take the bid seriously.
"One reason the Catholic Church has lasted a couple of thousand years, it has this kind of process, they're very slow and so we want to make sure we present something that, you know, has a lot of credible evidence," Rossi stated.
In order for an individual to be canonised, they must go through a long and tenuous process to achieve sainthood.
The first is a request for canonisation, in which an individual should be dead for at least five years to qualify. The request is usually made by members of the candidate's church or religious community and is reviewed by the bishop before he sends a request to the Vatican to open a special tribunal. After this process, he is deemed a "Servant of God."
After the bishop makes his report, the petition is reviewed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints wherein nine theologians scrutinise the petition, as well as the aspects of the candidate's life to determine his worthiness to become a saint. If he passes this step, he is recognised as "Venerable."
In order to go be beatified, the candidate must be proven a martyr, or someone who has died because of his faith. The Congregation also considers an intercession or miracle brought on by the candidate in order to call him "Blessed." At this point, the individual can already be honoured or venerated by his religious community.
If the candidate is able to perform another miracle, he may be canonised or officially declared a saint by the Pope.
During his career, Clemente was honoured with the Most Valuable Player award from the National League, and the Gold Glove 12 times. He was also a four-time batting champion and played for the 15 All Star games.
A year after his death, he was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame for his achievements and an award in his honour is given to players with outstanding skills in the field and in the community.