Archbishop Orani Tempesta and Vatican representatives told reporters Friday that they had begun the process to beatify Odette Vidal de Oliveira, who was 9 when she died of meningitis in 1939.
The Rev. Joao Claudio Loureriro do Nascimento, a historian and member of the archdiocese commission that studies potential candidates for sainthood, said the next step will be to obtain proof of miracles attributed to Oliveira. One miracle is needed for beatification and a second for canonization, the process of declaring a person a saint.
Nascimento said one miracle attributed to Oliveira was the recovery of a woman who suffered a serious hemorrhage after giving birth, leading doctors to tell her husband that she would die. "In prayers, the woman asked Odette for help and she recovered," he said.
The priest said Oliveira came from a wealthy family and "always asked the household staff to help the poor who begged for food and money. She also visited orphanages with her mother and serve food to the needy."
"She was a very religious girl who always accompanied her mother to church," Nascimento said. "At age 4, she seemed to have intimate dialogues with Jesus."