Looks like another Filipino is set to join the ranks of St. Lorenzo Ruiz (canonized October 18, 1987) and St. Pedro Calungsod (October 21, 2012).
Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo, “a woman of unwavering faith who carried out her mission with dauntless courage and trust”, reached “venerable” status recently, and is two steps away from sainthood. Our dear Pope Francis himself told the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to announce the decree on “the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Francisca del Espiritu Santo (born Francisca de Fuentes), founder of the Congregation on the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena.”
While anybody can be a saint (in January 2018, Lolo Kiko urged Peru’s youth “to not be afraid to be saints of the 21st century”), being an actual saint comes after a candidate passes a stringent process that involves a waiting period of at least five years, living a life of “heroic virtue,” and verified miracles, among others.
These three modern-day saints made the cut:
Gianna Beretta Molla, patron saint of mothers, physicians, wives, unborn children
Born in Magenta, Italy, on October 4, 1922, the wife and mother of four was a pediatrician who focused on caring for mothers, babies, the elderly, and the poor. When she was pregnant with her fourth child, doctors discovered a fibroma in her uterus and gave her three options: an abortion, a hysterectomy, or the removal of the fibroma, which allowed her to keep her baby yet posed a risk to her life.
It was the third option that Gianna chose. “If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child—I insist on it,” she told doctors. “Save her.” Unfortunately, complications arose after the procedure, and the mother died a week later, on April 28, 1962, at the age of 39. As she had wanted, her baby lived. Today, Gianna Emanuela is a doctor of geriatics.
Two miracles led to her canonization by Pope John Paul II on May 16, 2004 at St. Peter’s Square. Along with their children, her husband Pietro was present during the event, making him the first husband to witness his wife’s canonization.
Anna Schaffer, mystic
Too poor to go to school, let alone enter a religious order, the German-born Anna (b. February 18, 1882) worked as a household helper when her carpenter father died early. She was in her teens when she received a vision of Jesus telling her that she would live a life of great suffering.
True enough, Anna was doing the laundry when she fell into a vat of boiling hot water. Despite undergoing multiple surgeries and skin grafts to treat her legs, she was rendered immobile and left in the care of her mother.
In her excruciating pain and suffering, Anne prayed fervently, showing a particular devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. “I cannot write by pen how happy I am every time after Holy Communion,” said Anna who received the Eucharist daily from a visiting abbot. “Ah, I forget my earthly suffering and the longing of my poor soul draws me every moment to adore my God and Savior hidden in the Blessed Sacraments!” Anna, who even developed stigmata, humbly accepted people’s requests for prayers.
Colon cancer spread to the rest of her body, making it difficult for her to speak and write. On the morning of October 5, 1925, she uttered, “Jesus, I live for you!” and died within minutes. Thousands of miracles have since been attributed to her, and over 20,000 letters and testimonies supported her road to sainthood. “Her sickbed became the cradle of an apostolate that extended to the whole world,” said Pope John Paul II during her beatification on March 7, 1999. Anna was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 21, 2012.
Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero, the “Cowboy Priest”
Known as the “Cowboy Priest,” because he dressed in a poncho and sombrero and rode on a mule to visit his parishioners (with an image of the Blessed Mary, a prayer book, and Mass kit in tow), Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero (b. March 16, 1849) was born in Argentina, the fourth of 10 children. Entering the priesthood at 16, he became part of the Dominican Third Order in 1866 and was ordained in the same year.
He contracted leprosy in 1867 (some say while drinking yerba mate with those infected with the disease) while caring for the sick during a cholera epidemic. Even with his condition, the Cowboy Priest took on various roles in the church, from canon of the Cathedral of Cordova in 1898 to pastor in Villa del Transito in 1908.
Blind and deaf toward the end of his life, he passed away on January 26, 1914, his last words being, “Now I have everything ready for the journey.” Miracles experienced by his fellow Argentines led to his canonization on October 16, 2016.
“A shepherd who smelled of sheep, (who) became poor among the poor,” said countryman Pope Francis who declared him blessed in 2013.