Cause for Beatification of South Africa’s “Little Eden” Founders “well underway”: Official

Domitilla and Danny Hyams. Credit: Little Eden Society

The cause for beatification of the founders of Little Eden Society, a non-profit South African entity that provides life-long care to hundreds of “children and adults with profound intellectual disability”, is progressing as per the given guidelines, a Catholic Priest involved in the process has said.

In an interview with ACI Africa, the Vice-postulator of the cause for the beatification of Maria Domitilla Hyams and her husband, Daniel George Hyams (Hyams’ cause) said the process is “still in the local or diocesan phase”.

“The possible cause of beatification and canonization of Maria Domitilla Hyams and her husband, Daniel George Hyams is well underway. We are currently still in the local or diocesan phase, busy interviewing the witnesses and gathering all the evidence available,” Fr. Deneys Williamson said during the Wednesday, May 11 interview.

The late couple that founded Little Eden Society that cares for children and adults in two residential facilities in Johannesburg – Domitilla and Danny Hyams Home in Edenvale, and Elvira Rota Village, in Bapsfontein – are the first local couple to have been given the status of Servants of God by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Referring to the cause for beatification that began in 2018, Fr. Williamson said that Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg who initiated the process expressed his desire to begin an inquiry into the lives of the South African couple for “a possible cause of beatification and canonization”.


“In 2018, the Archbishop of Johannesburg, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, indicated his desire to begin an inquiry into their lives, to see if there was a possible cause of beatification and canonization. And so, he formed a preliminary Investigative Committee to begin this process”, Fr. Williamson told ACI Africa. 

The member of the Clergy of South Africa’s Johannesburg Archdiocese added, “We formed a committee, and we needed to check a few things; we managed to do that. And then a formal petition was made to the Bishop, by a person known as the postulator, who takes care of promoting the cause. The Bishop accepted that in 2018, and then in 2021, in February, we officially launched the investigation into their lives.”

In the May 11 interview, Fr. Williamson said that the “local or diocesan phase, and the Roman phase” are the two phases in the process of beatification and canonization.

He explained, “In the local diocesan phase, all we are doing is simply gathering as much information as we can about the couple. So, we interview eyewitnesses, and other witnesses; a Historical Commission is formed to gather every single scrap of documentary evidence bearing on their lives.”

“We don't form an opinion or a judgment; we just put that together, and then we send it off to the experts in the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome. They then begin the second or the Roman phase, and they will then use the experts that (are) there to review all the testimony”, the Vice-Postulator of the Hyams’ cause for beatification said.

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He added, “This information is collated into a document, which is then circulated amongst some Cardinals, who then make a vote. And if the vote is favorable, it goes to the Holy Father, and he, after discernment, will then decide whether to pronounce the person or persons under investigation as venerable.”

The Hyams couple who met during World War II in Italy, have been described as people who have lived out the virtues of prudence, charity, faith and hope in their married and family life, in their Parish community of Edenvale, and in their work of establishing and running Little Eden Society since 1967, the South African Catholic Priest said.

“We would like them to become blessed and saints. And what that requires, is a miracle. And only after the declaration of heroic virtue, will a miracle be considered? And so, we still await that, and if there is an alleged miracle, another investigation needs to take place to ascertain the veracity of the alleged miracle”, Fr. Williamson told ACI Africa May 11.

“And if it's favorable, then that will be taken into consideration and the person or persons could be declared blessed,” he said, and encouraged the people of God to visit the website of the cause and to consider making use of the prayer card.

The Vice-Postulator continued, “We would like people to please report any favors or graces they may have received through the intercession of Daniel and Domitilla Hyams to us; all the information is there on the website and also on the prayer cards.”


“If we see that the couple enjoy intercessory power in heaven and favors are being granted through the intercession, this is obviously a sign that we should proceed with the investigation. So, I encourage people to make use of the prayer cards and to ask for favors,” Fr. Williamson reiterated during the May 11 interview with ACI Africa.

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.