[Rewind #AwaNgDiyosPH] Mercy for a nun’s sainthood sought from Francis, Vatican



For Easter, The Filipino Connection releases articles from its special edition on the apostolic visit of Pope Francis last January 15-19, 2015.



QUEZON CITY—A nearly-400-year-old congregation of Dominican nuns is hoping that mercy from the global Catholic Church hierarchy leads to the group’s biggest triumph.

That triumph is sainthood for Mother Francisca de Fuentes, O.P. (in religious: Francisca del Espiritu Santo), the founder of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena.

A bust of Servant of God Francisca Fuentes, O.P. (photo by MIA ROSIENNA MALLARI / The Filipino Connection)

A bust of Servant of God Francisca Fuentes, O.P. (photo by MIA ROSIENNA MALLARI / The Filipino Connection)

The Quezon City-headquartered congregation just submitted a positio to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints (CCS) last December 8, 2013, just weeks before the person who can declare Mo. Francisca a venerable, Pope Francis, went to the Philippines for a pastoral visit. (The positio is the collection of documents and manifestos proving the path to holiness of a candidate for sainthood, be it by martyrdom or heroic virtues.)

Even the current prioress general of the congregation, Mo. Jesusa Enginco, O.P., is confident Mo. Francisca will be declared venerable “soon”.

“I am confident that the positio will be approved in a few months,” Enginco told The Filipino Connection.

Actually, Enginco’s congregation had already submitted some pieces of evidence from the diocesan inquiry, held from July 8 to December 6, 2003, that was initiated by the Archdiocese of Manila. It took four years for the CCS to validate those pieces of evidence, said to be some 2,000 pages thick.

But CCS had told the Siena sisters to condense the submission into 500 pages.

Completing both the positio and the recommendation by a committee of historians and theologians can take decades. In the case of the Dominican Siena sisters, the congregation took seven years to finish the positio.

Fr. Vito Tomás Gómez García, O.P. is the postulator or the person who guides the applicant organization for the sainthood cause of a candidate.

Currently, Fuentes is a Servant of God, with CCS Protocol number 2533.

Fuentes (1647–August 24, 1711) had “defined her life through her faith,” Enginco said.

She was born to Spanish parents who migrated in the Philippines at the height of the Spanish colonization during the 1600s.

After marrying at a young age and being widowed shortly after, the childless Francisca decided to devote her time to reach out to the needy “even if she had none for herself,” Enginco said.

Long before the phenomenon of human trafficking is scouring today’s world, Francisca took under her wing women and children left out of the streets, providing them with protection and education.

It was in 1682 when Francesca received the habit of a Dominican Tertiary when she was “invited” by the Franciscans and the Dominicans. She chose the latter, though her religious name was inspired from St. Francis of Assisi, like today’s Pope (or Jorge Mario Bergoglio).

“She lived up to her name, Francisca. She was an exemplary, a good example to everyone,” Enginco said. “Alam sa buong Intramuros iyan noon [People in the entire Intramuros know of her deeds back then].”

Fuentes was said to have sought after the well-being of others. It wasn’t long before her strenuous efforts were recognized.

The manuscript Breave Relacion written by Fr. Juan de Santo Domingo O.P. proved to be the congregation’s primary source of information about Fuentes. Breave Relacion elucidated the genuine holy life Fuentes had lived. The manuscript was found “perfectly” intact 200 years after Fuentes’ death in 1711.

An original copy of the Breave Relacion is in Spain, but the University of Santo Tomas Archives, found in Manila, keeps a copy in microfilm.


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