Good news: Another Filipina nun has gotten a step closer to sainthood!
On Saturday, July 6, the Vatican announced the decision of Pope Francis to declare Mother Francisca Del Espiritu Santo De Fuentes as ‘venerable.’ This declaration makes Mother Francisca the second Filipina nun to be ever declared as venerable by a Pope.
Who is Mother Francisca and what are her significant contributions to the Catholic community? Read on to know more about her!
A Life of Purpose
Mother Francisca Del Espiritu Santo De Fuentes, known by many as ‘Mother Francisca,’ is the founder of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena. She was born to a Spanish father and a mestiza mother in Intramuros, Manila, in 1647.
Before she committed to a life of prayer and charity, Mother Francisca was a widow who had no children. She says she only found her purpose in life again after she joined the Dominican third order in 1682.
A few years later, Mother Francisca had wanted to start a congregation for her Dominican sisters. Along with her friend Sebastiana Salcedo and her biological sisters Antonia de Jesus Esguerra and Maria Ana de Fuentes, she established the Beaterio de Sta. Catalina de Sena ––now known as the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena––in Manila in 1696.
From then on, Mother Francisca dedicated most of her time to her congregation and its cause. She died in Manila in 1711 and was entombed in the steps of the main altar of the Church of Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros.
The Path to Sainthood
Mother Francisca’s path to sainthood started in as early as December 2002 when the Vatican was petitioned to open the Cause of the nun. Three months later, the petition was granted by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
In June 2007, the Decree of Validity on the Diocesan Inquiry was granted to the Mother Francisca Commission. This allowed the writing of the positio—a document needed in the process of becoming Venerable—on the life, virtues, and fame of sanctity of the Filipina nun. The positio was completed in 2012.
In December 2014, the Mother Francisca Commission received a copy of the positio with a favorable evaluation from the Historical Experts of the Vatican. Five years later, the Filipina nun was declared Venerable by Pope Francis.
The Venerable title is the second of four steps in the church’s canonization process. The next stage, Beatification, requires the recognition of a miracle that is attributed to the individual. The next and final stage, Canonization, requires the Pope’s recognition of another miracle that is also associated to the same person.
Mother Francisca is the second Filipina nun to be declared as venerable by a Pope. Last month, the Santo Papa also granted Dominican nun Maria Beatrice Rosario Arroyo the title of Venerable after recognizing her heroic virtues.