The Romanian Orthodox Church says it is considering a Romanian monk persecuted by the communists and known as the "saint of Transylvania" for sainthood.

The Metropolitan of Transylvania church authority said Thursday it had begun the lengthy process of canonization for Arsenie Boca, a Romanian Orthodox monk and priest whose grave in western Romania attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims every year.

The Romanian Orthodox church is autonomous and makes its own canonizations.

Boca, who became a monk in 1940, fell afoul of communist authorities due to his support for the anti-communist resistance.

He was harassed by the Securitate secret police, detained and did forced labor.

Boca died in 1989, a month before Romania's anti-communist revolt. Some Orthodox priests have been criticized for collaborating with communist authorities.