Siena sisters foundress a step closer to sainthood

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ANOTHER Dominican sister is a step closer to sainthood after the Vatican raised the status of Mother Francisca del Espiritu Santo from “Servant of God” to “Venerable.”

Pope Francis authorized on July 5 the promulgation of the “heroic virtues” of Mother Francisca through a decree by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Sr. Cecilia Varon, O.P., superior of the Holy Rosary School of Pardo in Cebu, said Fr. Juan de Santo Domingo’s writings on the foundation of the congregation and the life of its foundress were instrumental in Mother Francisca’s cause for sainthood.

Varon added that the progress on Mother Francisca’s cause is a challenge for Siena sisters to boost the promotion of devotion to her by living out her examples.

“The first thing would be the living witnesses of the sisters. Now that she is raised to being a venerable, then it’s a greater challenge for the sisters to really live her virtues,” she said.

Mother Francisca was born in Manila around 1647 as Francisca de Fuentes.

She was the daughter of Spaniards Don Simon de Fuentes and Ana del Castillo y Tamayo.

Widowed and childless shortly after her marriage, she devoted her life to prayer and service for the sick and poor.

Mother Francisca joined the Dominican Order as a tertiary in 1682.

With three companions, she founded the Beaterio de Sta. Catalina de Sena de las Hermanas de Penitencia de la Tercera Orden on July 26, 1686, and became its first prioress.

The congregation was approved in 1688 by Master of the Order Antonio Cloche. Today it is known as the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, which runs several schools and foundations.

Mother Francisca died on Aug. 24, 1711 and was buried within the compound of Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Intramuros.

Her road to sainthood began in 2002, on the initiative by the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin.

She is the second Filipino Dominican sister and foundress to be raised to the status of venerable, following Mother Rosario Arroyo, of the congregation of Dominican sisters based in Molo, Iloilo City, last June 12.

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