MANILA, Philippines – A Filipino nun, Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo, is now a step closer to sainthood after Pope Francis recognized her heroic virtues, the Vatican announced on Friday, July 5.
Del Espiritu Santo is now “venerable” or two steps away from being declared a saint.
The Vatican said that Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the decree on “the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Francisca del Espiritu Santo (born Francisca de Fuentes), founder of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena.”
Del Espiritu Santo was born in Intramuros, Manila in 1647 and died on August 24, 1711. She is buried at the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila.
A website dedicated to Del Espiritu Santo said that she was a “woman of unwavering faith who carried out her mission with dauntless courage and trust.”
A biography written by Letran rector and president Fr Clarence Marquez OP chronicled Del Espiritu Santo’s life, from being widow to her struggles as part of the Rule of the Third Order of St. Dominic.
He said that Del Espiritu devoted her life pushing for women in the religious community to “establish themselves in ways on which the church laws of those times were still silent.”
Del Espiritu Santo founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena, that was caught in between what Marquez called a “juridical crossfire.”
Then archbishop of Manila Diego Camacho closed down the convent for two years and excommunicated Del Espritu Santo among with other nuns, in a bid to enforce church laws and discipline.
Del Espiritu Santo was later “restored to grace” when the archbishop approved the petition for absolution, after a series of negotiations.
“Francisca is the viuda beata, the widow who lost a husband, but found God; who bore no children but mothered a whole new religious family; who received more than what was taken away; and who gave the most because she gave all that she has, all that she is,” Marquez wrote.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) lists 3 basic steps to sainthood: “a candidate becomes ‘venerable,’ then ‘blessed,’ then ‘saint.'”
“Venerable” is “the title given to a deceased person recognized formally by the Pope as having lived heroic virtues,” the USCCB said.
“Blessed” is the title given to a “venerable” who helped produce at least one miracle through his or her intercession. The Catholic Church officially considers a person as “blessed” in a ritual called beatification.
To ensure that each reported miracle is divine intervention, the Vatican subjects them to stringent scientific and theological examination.
If a second miracle is attributed to a “blessed,” the “blessed” becomes a “saint.” The Pope officially lists a person as a saint in a ritual called canonization.
If the Catholic Church beatifies and eventually canonizes her, Del Espiritu Santo will become only the third saint from the Philippines, but also the first Filipina to reach the stature.
The Philippines has two saints: Lorenzo Ruiz, who was canonized in 1987, and Pedro Calungsod, canonized in 2012. – Rappler.com