Pope declares 2 Filipino nuns as ‘venerable’
MANILA, Philippines — Pope Francis declared as “venerable” a second Filipino Dominican nun who founded the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in the 17th century, according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The Vatican on Friday announced the Pontiff’s decision to recognize the virtues of Francisca Del Espiritu Santo De Fuentes, known as Mother Francisca, who was born to a Spanish father and mestiza mother in Intramuros, Manila, in 1647.
After a brief marriage, she was widowed without children and joined the Dominican third order in 1682, dedicating her time to prayer and acts of charity.
Founding a ‘beaterio’
With her biological sisters Antonia de Jesus Esguerra and Maria Ana de Fuentes, along with Sebastiana Salcedo, she established the Beaterio de Sta. Catalina de Sena, which is now the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena.
She died in Manila in 1711 and was entombed at the steps of the main altar of the Church of Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros.
The Pope’s declaration marks the first major step on the path to sainthood for the nun who died in Manila in 1711.
The Pope would have to recognize a miracle attributed to Mother Francisca’s intercession in order for her to be beatified, the next step toward sainthood.
After the beatification, another miracle would be needed for canonization.
Mother Francisca’s path to sainthood started as early as December 2002, when the Vatican was petitioned to open the cause of the nun, which was granted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in March of the following year.
The Decree of Validity on the Diocesan Inquiry was granted in June 2007 which allowed the writing of the “positio” on the life, virtues and fame of sanctity of Mother Francisca.
The completion of the positio was in 2012. The Mother Francisca Commission received a copy of the positio in December 2014 with the favorable evaluation from the Historical Experts of the Vatican.
Last month, the Pope also declared as venerable another Dominican nun, Maria Beatrice Rosario Arroyo, who was born in Iloilo and later founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary.
Mother Sayong, as she was known, was born to a wealthy family in Molo, Iloilo City, on Feb. 17, 1884. She entered the religious life in Beaterio de Santa Catalina in Manila, made her profession on Jan. 3, 1914, and later taught at the Beaterio of Manila in Pangasinan.
In 1925, she founded the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines in Iloilo City on Feb. 18, 1927.
Fruits of the spirit
The congregation now has more than 200 missionaries spread in different provinces and even abroad. Mother Sayong died of heart failure on June 14, 1957.
If Mother Arroyo’s cause for sainthood is successful, she will be the first Filipina saint.
The Philippines already has two saints: Lorenzo Ruiz, who was canonized in 1987, and Pedro Calungsod, canonized in 2012.
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